Jones at the top of selectors' wish list

The selectors were right to pick Ian Bell instead of Robert Key at the start of the season, they were right to opt for Kevin Pietersen ahead of Graham Thorpe before the Ashes, and they showed strength in not bowing to pressure when England were defeated heavily by Australia in the first Test at Lord's.

But as they collected their thoughts this week, and contemplated possible replacements for Simon Jones, what would they have given for an England team without any fitness concerns before such a crucial match? England are still hopeful that Jones, whose magnificent bowling is one of the principal reasons why they lead this thrilling series 2-1, will recover from the ankle injury which caused him to limp off in the fourth Test.

England are not alone in having injury concerns. Australia have left Glenn McGrath out of their side to play Essex in a two-day match at Chelmsford over the weekend. McGrath's omission will not mean that he will miss the final Test but his absence suggests there are still concerns about his right elbow.

Pietersen was bullish about his England team-mate Jones's chances of playing in the fifth Test. "Simon is getting on really well," he said. "I think he will play. I spoke to him and he seems very confident."

The selectors will name Jones in England's squad which is to be announced at 9.30am tomorrow, and they will wait to see how his right ankle reacts to bowling before they make a decision. Glamorgan have a totesport League game that Jones could play in on Monday, but Fletcher, the England coach, rarely uses county matches to conduct fitness tests. He prefers to keep players under his control so that he can monitor them personally.

Should Jones's twice-daily visits to an oxygen chamber prove successful England will, for the first time in 120 years, field the same team in each Test of an Ashes series. The temptation to play Jones will be strong but there are bound to be risks in selecting him. It is not only the fact that England's attack could be reduced to four men if the injury were to flare up again - Australia would be perfectly entitled to refuse Michael Vaughan the use of a substitute, leaving him with only 10 fielders. Teams are only allowed to field a substitute for an injury that is picked up during the match and, considering Australia's incensed reaction to England's use of the 12th man, it is highly unlikely that Ricky Ponting would show any sympathy to Vaughan's predicament.

But who do England pick if Jones fails to recover in time? England claim to have a wealth of fast-bowling options, but who could they trust in a game of this magnitude? Chris Tremlett has been selected in each Ashes squad this summer but he is yet to make his Test debut, and his form in recent weeks has been indifferent. The 6ft 8in seamer has all the attributes you want to see in a fast bowler, and he showed promise in the three NatWest Series matches in which he played. But is this the sort of game in which you pick an untried bowler?

James Anderson holds a central contract and he has taken more than 50 first-class wickets for Lancashire this season, but his bowling for England has lacked confidence and the selectors would consider him to be too fragile.

England only need a draw to regain the Ashes yet it would be a defensive step to pick the all-rounder Paul Collingwood ahead of a specialist bowler. England have been successful because they have attacked Ponting's side and in Australia's second innings at Trent Bridge Vaughan found it difficult to take the final six wickets with only four bowlers. Andy Caddick has the experience and he enjoys bowling at The Oval, where he has taken 23 wickets in five Test appearances. But the 36-year-old has lost a yard of pace and has had fitness problems.

Gloucestershire's Jon Lewis has only just recovered from a broken hand. Lewis, like Tremlett, is yet to make his Test debut and his lack of pace could be exposed. Nottinghamshire's Ryan Sidebottom and Sussex's James Kirtley are both worthy of mention, and England could consider including a second spinner on a pitch with a history of helping this style of bowler.

Yet Tremlett remains the favourite and the Cheltenham and Gloucester final at Lord's today gives him the perfect stage on which to impress. The Oval pitch would suit his bowling, and England's attack could accommodate a bowler who may concede a few runs but should create chances.

England (probable squad for the fifth Test at The Oval starting on Thursday): M P Vaughan (capt), M E Trescothick, A J Strauss, I R Bell, K P Pietersen, A Flintoff, G O Jones (wkt), A F Giles, M J Hoggard, S J Harmison, S P Jones, C T Tremlett.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back