Now that Michael Vaughan has broken cover and put his case for Flintoff to make a swift return, as part of a 4 man bowling attack, here's my stab at the 11 for the first test.
Hoggy is back among the wickets, and should come in for Anderson, who's had more 2nd chances than Graham Hick and Mark Ramprakash put together, and still doesn't manage to perform for 2 tests in a row. Ambrose is a better batsman than Flintoff on current form, and Key is hungry right now, making the runs, and should get a chance.
2 big issues still remain:
- Vaughan, if he wasn't captain, wouldn't be guaranteed a place in the side. How many runs is his captaincy worth?
- Can England bowl a side out with 4 bowlers? On their day all 4 in the above 11 are proven wicket takers, but only Sidebottom has done that consistently, and without injury, during his time in the side in the last 2 years. We don't know yet whether Hoggard and Flintoff are on the wane, or whether (like Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock etc.) they still have 3-4 good years left in them. Ambrose isn't yet a Test no.6, but Flintoff isn't batting at that standard either, so an England with 5 bowlers would have a long tail.
One of my local team asked yesterday if I could pray for good weather to dry out our pitch ready for tomorrows first game. I replied that I was in sales, not management (someone elses line, sadly), but the Management has done a great job today, it's been lovely sunshine. We'll find out tomorrow whether He was teasing.