Flintoff's call a key factor in England's Ashes challenge

Vaughan stays upbeat despite duck

A large proportion of the England supporters in South Australia may end up not giving one if the performance of Andrew Flintoff's side here mirrors that of Brisbane, but the outcome of the second Test, and probably the fate of the Ashes, appears to depend on the captain's ability to call correctly at the toss tonight.

If Flintoff makes the right choice and elects to bat he will have given England their best chance of drawing level in the series. Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen will need to avoid the first-day nerves that turned Stephen Harmison into a jittering wreck, but if they can take England's first innings total past 350, they will put this highly motivated and ruthless Australian side under pressure.

England's success in 2005 was based around batting first and posting competitive totals. Michael Vaughan's side achieved this goal in all but the first Test at Lord's - which they lost. By batting first England also prevent Shane Warne from bowling on a worn pitch that is taking spin. England's batsmen countered Warne reasonably well in Brisbane but this is a venue where the leg-spinner has taken more than 50 Test wickets.

And because of the Warne effect, along with concerns about the quality of England's bowling, one fears the worst for the tourists if Flintoff were to lose the toss. Flintoff has lost the toss in four of his last five games as captain, so is he out of form with the coin, or is he due to win one? It was at the second Test in 2005 that Ricky Ponting made a howler when he invited England to bat on a slow, flat, Edgbaston pitch. It was the error that let England back in to the series, and it is hard to believe the Australian captain will make the same mistake at a delightful Adelaide Oval, where the winner of the toss has batted first on 22 of the previous 23 occasions. Indeed, the last time an Australian captain opted to bowl first here was in 1980.

The pitch is considered to be the most batsman friendly in Australia, a verdict endorsed by the home side who have passed 550 in three of the the last four occasions they have played here. In the other game they scored a paltry 428. The high scoring has not produced boring draws, with only one of the last 15 Tests ending in a stalemate.

Adelaide is a venue that Australia enjoy playing at. They have won nine and lost one of their previous 11 matches here and their top four batsmen - Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn - all average more than 50 at the venue.

It is hoped that Flintoff's men do not spend too much time analysing these statistics because they are pretty intimidating, but they do give an indication of the size of the task facing the team. England are likely to make one change to the side heavily beaten in the first Test, with Monty Panesar coming in for James Anderson.

The pitch in Adelaide offers spinners more assistance than most but it is also a nice ground to bowl seam on. There is normally something in the surface for the quicker men, especially on the first morning when the new ball swings. The abrasive nature of the pitch encourages reverse-swing but the true bounce and short boundaries square of the wicket make it a difficult ground to defend.

Despite the boundaries, Panesar must play as a second spinner. He is a potential match-winner and even if he does not take a stack of wickets he should give his captain the control that was missing in Brisbane. Panesar and Ashley Giles do not offer England great variety. Harmison's rehabilitation continued in the nets yesterday and he looks set to keep his place.

Andrew Strauss realises how difficult it will be to turn things around. He said: "We know that in the first three days in Brisbane we did not play to the levels we need to to beat Australia. We have shown in past series that we can come back from an early defeat and we need to learn from the mistakes we made at the Gabba.

"We can't keep looking back to 2005 because what took place then is now largely irrelevant. But the important thing is that we did learn lessons from the defeat at Lord's, and we have to do the same here.

"We need to try and put Australia under pressure. We have plans on how to do it but we need to put them into action. There is still a very positive vibe in the camp. It is not all doom and gloom. We have to build on the few positives that came out of the first Test."

England's bowling in Brisbane was worryingly ineffective but their batting in the first innings was poor, too. Several batsmen got out to soft shots and no one was more culpable than Strauss, who was caught twice in the deep hooking.

"When you hook you have to pick the right ball and on two occasions in the last game I did not do that," said Strauss. "It is something I need to work on. I need to be more selective on length and possibly wait until the ball is a little older before I play the shot. I will continue to play it because it has brought me a lot of runs.

"You have to be positive against Australia and take the game to them if you want to beat them, but you don't want to be reckless. Unfortunately, having got out twice, I looked reckless in the first Test."

Australia are expected to name an unchanged side. They are expecting to win the match whereas England, one feels, would be content with a draw.

Michael Vaughan described his return to competitive cricket as a "real positive" even though it ended in a seven-ball duck in England Academy's defeat to Western Australia Second XI in Perth.

Vaughan, the England captain until knee problems and surgery late last year, was playing his first match since his operation. He began in the field, and was untroubled by his injury in his short stay at the crease - batting at No 4 in the rain-shortened one-day match which saw his side stumble to 4 for 2 on the way to an unsuccessful reply to 218 for 8.

"Obviously, it's slightly disappointing I didn't get any runs - but to be honest, today was all about getting back to playing cricket," he said after the Academy's 40-run defeat. Vaughan added: "It's a huge positive to me that I'm back on the field playing cricket. It is the early stages of a comeback."

Aussie stronghold Oval record

Australia have won nine and lost one of the last 11 Tests they have played in Adelaide. The defeat, to India in 2003, came when they were deprived of the services of their two finest bowlers, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

Last 11 matches at Adelaide Oval

Year/Opponents/Aus Runs/Result

2005 West Indies/610 for 13/Aus by 7 wkts

2004 New Zealand/714 for 10/Aus by 213 runs

2003 India/752 for 20/India by 4 wkts

2002 England/552 for 10/Aus by inns & 51 runs

2001 South Africa/746 for 17/Aus by 246 runs

2000 West Indies/533 for 15 /Aus by 5 wkts

1999 India/680 for 18 /Aus by 285 runs

1998 England/669 for 15/Aus by 205 runs

1998 South Africa/577 for 17/Draw

1997 West Indies/517 for 10/Aus by inns & 183 runs

1996 Sri Lanka/717 for 15/Aus by 148 runs

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence