Tremlett cast aside as Collingwood and Anderson step up

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The Independent Online

The changes are the first the selectors have made in this astonishing series and it is hoped that they will give England, who are 2-1 up, greater experience and the ability to cover every set of circumstances as they attempt to regain the Ashes for the first time in 18 years.

Anderson comes in as a direct replacement for Tremlett, whose bowling in Saturday's Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy final failed to convince the selectors that he was up to playing in a match of this stature. Anderson or Collingwood will play only if Simon Jones fails to overcome the ankle injury which forced him off the field during the fourth Test at Trent Bridge.

Collingwood is not a like-for-like replacement for Jones, but he would add depth to England's batting should they choose to take a more defensive approach and play for a draw. Collingwood has had an excellent season for Durham, scoring more than 1,000 runs at an average of almost 60, but his bowling is unlikely to cause alarm in the Australian dressing-room.

"Simon Jones is continuing to make progress," said David Graveney, the England and Wales Cricket Board's chairman of selectors. "We will give him as much time as he needs to prove his fitness. He will continue to receive treatment and be reassessed at practice tomorrow.

"Chris Tremlett will be disappointed, having been named in the 12 for the first four Tests. His involvement with the Test squad has meant limited opportunities for him with Hampshire in recent weeks and, as a consequence, we feel he is not at the top of his game at present. James Anderson has big-match experience with England and we feel his inclusion in the squad will give the captain and coach another bowling option in the event of Simon Jones being unfit to play."

Jones' hostile swing bowling has troubled each of Australia's batsmen in this Ashes series and it has resulted in him taking 18 wickets in four Tests. England have attempted to speed up his recovery by sending him for twice-daily visits to an oxygen chamber at a hospital in London.

If Jones fails to prove that he can get through the rigours of a five-day Test, it is to be hoped the selectors will opt for Anderson. England have been successful this summer because their bowlers have attacked Australia's batsmen. The aggression and skill of Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard and Jones have made the lives of Australia's all-star batting line-up uncomfortable, and England need to maintain the high level of intensity for one more match. Reducing Michael Vaughan's bowling options would lessen the chances of this taking place, and Collingwood's runs would more than likely be irrelevant if Australia were to win the toss, bat and score 550.

Whether Anderson is confident enough, or indeed bowling well enough to fill the possible void left by Jones, is questionable. He has taken more than 50 first-class wickets for Lancashire this summer, yet his form has been sporadic. Anderson has not played for England since the winter Test against South Africa in Johannesburg, where he took 2 for 147 in 34 overs. England may have a major decision to make before the coin is tossed at The Oval on Thursday, but there is still confusion over who will play for Australia. In his Sunday newspaper column, Glenn McGrath stated that he was fit and ready to play in the final Test.

"I've made a full recovery and will definitely play at The Oval," said a confident McGrath. "It has been so frustrating sitting out two of the first four Tests. But now I can get at England's batsmen in the decider."

However, a spokesman for Cricket Australia said: "Don't take McGrath's piece as gospel. A decision on his fitness has yet to be made."

McGrath had a gentle bowl in the nets before the final day of Australia's two-day game against Essex in Chelmsford. Errol Alcott, the Australian physiotherapist, said: "Glenn bowled six overs during this morning's warm-up and felt very comfortable whilst bowling. Whilst we are all optimistic for his return we are still taking a very cautious approach. He is up for daily review and no date for a final date on his availability for the Test has been made."

Australia will give a player of McGrath's class every opportunity to prove his fitness but the tourists are keen to find out, as soon as possible, whether his right elbow can cope with the heavy workload of a Test.

Teams hate indecision, especially before a match of this stature. It unsettles them, and both sides would be better off if early decisions were made on the fitness of Jones and McGrath. It would allow those who are fit to prepare to play possibly the biggest game of their careers.

England squad for fifth Test

M P Vaughan (Yorkshire, captain) Age: 30 Tests: 61

M E Trescothick (Somerset) 29, 65

A J Strauss (Middlesex) 28, 18

I R Bell (Warwickshire) 23, 7

K P Pietersen

(Hampshire) 25, 4

A Flintoff (Lancashire) 27, 51

G O Jones (Kent, wicketkeeper) 29, 19

A F Giles (Warwickshire) 32, 49

M J Hoggard (Yorkshire) 28, 44

S P Jones (Glamorgan) 26, 18

S J Harmison (Durham) 26, 34

P D Collingwood (Durham) 29, 2

J M Anderson (Lancashire) 23, 12