Seamers, seamers everywhere, with hardly a batsman in sight

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The Independent Online

England will go into the one-day series against South Africa with a squad containing seven seam bowlers, most of whom have trouble locating the right end of the bat. The over-egged pudding inspectors have been informed.

England will go into the one-day series against South Africa with a squad containing seven seam bowlers, most of whom have trouble locating the right end of the bat. The over-egged pudding inspectors have been informed.

After a week of speculation it was announced yesterday that Andrew Flintoff will fly home for probable surgery to remove the bone spur in his left ankle. He will visit a specialist on Friday with a view to an operation.

This has prompted almost unprecedented activity in the seamers' market. Matthew Hoggard was named as the official replacement, which encouraged more speculation that he would bat at No 5 against South Africa at the Wanderers in the first one-day international on Sunday.

As if this was not enough, Simon Jones is staying as cover for Stephen Harmison, who will have recurring fitness tests in the next few days - he went for another scan last night after the match. According to the team management it is intended, "that Harmison will play a full role in all or part of the series". If Harmison is fit, Jones may go home, but if Harmison is unfit Jones will stay.

The number of players in the squad is now 17, and whatever else happens the continued employment is assured of hotel and internal flight bookings clerks all over South Africa. Harmison bowled 16 overs in three spells yesterday and although he never found the rhythm that made him the most feared fast bowler in the world only five weeks ago he took two wickets without his calf exploding.

While injury may have played its part in the reorganisation of the squad, it will not have escaped the attention of the selectors that the other seamers, James Anderson (all over the place), Kabir Ali (inexperience since he has played only one match in which he neither batted nor bowled), Darren Gough (reaching the end of the rainbow) and Alex Wharf (still becoming attuned to this level) could well need assistance.

South Africa also named their squad of 15 for the first four matches of the series yesterday. It included all 11 of the players who took part in the fifth Test. The big surprise was the recall after seven years of the 31-year-old batsman Adam Bacher.

The only one-day warm-up is tomorrow in Kimberley. England were due to leave their Johannesburg hotel for the 480km journey at 7am today.

England one-day squad: M P Vaughan (capt), Kabir Ali, J M Anderson, G J Batty, I R Bell, P D Collingwood, A F Giles, D Gough, S J Harmison, M J Hoggard, G O Jones (wkt), S P Jones, K P Pietersen, V S Solanki, A J Strauss, M E Trescothick, A G Wharf.

South Africa: G C Smith (capt), N Boje, A Bacher, M V Boucher, AB de Villiers, H H Gibbs, A J Hall, J H Kallis, J E Kemp, C K Langeveldt, A Nel, M Ntini, A M Prince, S M Pollock, J A Rudolph

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