Selectors should steer clear of Flintoff

Adam and Eve failed to resist temptation but will Geoff Miller and the England selectors tomorrow when they announce their squad for the first Test against New Zealand? Bait does not come in the form of an apple, but it is the apple of English cricket's eye, Andrew Flintoff, who dominated conversation during the selectors' six-hour meeting in Nottingham on Thursday.

The selectors' predicament has not been helped by Paul Collingwood, who finished yesterday's Championship match against Lancashire complaining of soreness in his right shoulder and stiffness to his lower back. Collingwood had an injection in his shoulder and is having regular massage on his back.

The all-rounder will be desperate to play at Lord's. Collingwood knows that if England drop a batsman it is likely to be him and he has no desire to give a competitor the sniff of a chance. He will say that he is fit to bat but the ailments reduce his chances of bowling, which in turn decreases the possibility of Flintoff being selected.

Collingwood's bowling, though occasional in Tests, would potentially help reduce Flintoff's workload. Without Collingwood, captain Michael Vaughan would have no cover for a bowler that is still recovering from a fourth ankle operation. It leaves the selectors with plenty to think about. Should they pick their rehabilitating talisman, or would it be in the long-term interests of both parties to show caution?

There are strong cases for both arguments. Those that have played with or against Flintoff this summer insist he is back to his best. Somerset's Justin Langer and Marcus Trescothick say his pace is right up there – 85-90mph – he is taking wickets and he should be picked. To them his poor form with the bat is irrelevant. When fully fit he is England's best bowler, it's as simple as that.

Unfortunately it's not. A career is at stake. But there are times when Flintoff needs protecting from himself. He is incapable of giving less than 100 per cent and he would happily do everything Vaughan asked of him at Lord's next week.

Flintoff may be shining for Lancashire but it is as a member of a five-man attack, where his workload can be managed sympathetically. Should he be picked for the first Test it would be in a four-man attack containing two further seamers – Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad – and a spinner – Monty Panesar. Such a set-up would considerably increase his workload, especially if the weather is overcast and the pitch seamer friendly. In these conditions Flintoff would be expected to bowl at least 20 overs per day, something he is yet to do for Lancashire this season.

The desire to pick Flintoff would be less were he not taking wickets – 14 at an average of 15 in all cricket – but on previous returns his problems have resurfaced when he has bowled 150-200 overs. He has currently delivered 95, half that his rehabilitation team would like to see him bowl before an England recall. It may sound negative but if England were to pick Flintoff and he broke down after bowling 50 overs, the selectors would be criticised for rushing him back, therefore they should resist the temptation.

Tim Ambrose's fitness will be monitored, too, after a stiff neck yesterday prevented the England 'keeper from taking the field during Warwickshire's match against Derbyshire. James Anderson's encouraging start to the season could see him named as cover for Collingwood.

Angus Fraser's squad: M P Vaughan (c), A N Cook, A J Strauss, K P Pietersen, I R Bell, P D Collingwood, T R Ambrose (wkt), S C J Broad, R J Sidebottom, M S Panesar, J M Anderson, M J Hoggard, O A Shah.

sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor