I feel obliged to have a rant about England's woeful cricketing performances, both on and off (of) the field.
Batting is inconsistent, bowling is ineffective and selection is delusional and occasionally autistic. Never mind Pattinson at Headingley, why Collingwood at Edgbaston? No runs for Durham this season, no wickets, and an average of nine and three quarters for England in the last 5 tests. He shouldn't be playing for Durham's second team, let alone the England test team.
Michael Vaughan is also seriously out of nick. He's only scored a single century in his last 22 tests. He is, however, England captain. The trouble is, though, South Africa seem able to dismiss him with comparitive ease. Vaughan's form has never been better than his 2002 performance against Australia, when, incidentally, he wasn't captain. Since then, it's been pretty much downhill all the way.
I would now suggest that Vaughan be removed as captain at the end of this series to make way for someone else. It is, however, crucial that the replacement is someone who is selected consistently for the test side. Collingwood, for example, is a hopeless selection. Strauss is also dubious. Let's examine the selected 11 for this test and analyze their prospects:
Strauss - after being brought back to into the side, seemingly for no reason, managed to scrape together a couple of centuries, although both were against New Zealand. Needs a couple of scores against South Africa - if not, his place will once again come under scrutiny. For this reason, he's not a terribly good choice for captain.
Cook - must stop getting out for scores between 60 and 80. His conversion rate is only about a third. 50 should mean 100. He does still have technical problems outside off stump.
Vaughan - captaining still good, but can't buy a run and should relinquish the captaincy and his place in the side at the end of the series. Back to Yorkshire to get some runs for Geoffrey.
Pietersen - England player with the highest average. Sometimes does not control his shot selection as he might in more austere situations. Possibly the only undroppable player in the side.
Bell - Similarly to Cook, he needs more hundreds. His excellent 199 in the Lord's test should keep his critics at bay though.
Collingwood - What can I say? Shouldn't be in the side, shouldn't be captain. Desperately needs runs. If he is to be a proper all-rounder, needs to do something with his bowling. Why not learn wrist spin?
Flintoff - a couple of promising performances with the bat since his reintroduction into the side will breed more self-confidence. Bowling seems as good as ever, but needs more wickets in general.
Ambrose - keeping is fine but batting is not. Seemed very weak at No. 6 in the order in Leeds and now needs to make dramatic improvements if his place is not to come under threat.
Sidebottom - was brilliant against NZ but must be reminded that he can't take bagfulls of wickets all the time. His economy and consistency is still excellent, however.
Anderson - the most improved player in the side over the last year. Came back from the depths of despair during the NZ ODI series having been bashed all over the place by Brendon McCullum. Needs to bowl better to left-handers though - more inswingers, please.
Panesar - still by far the best spinner in England, but needs to learn more variations and flight the ball a bit more. Also - where's the doosra? Fielding and batting still leaves a lot to be desired.
Broad - a truly brilliant prospect and could almost be included in the side as a batsman going on present form. Bowling is terribly whole-hearted, but needs a lot of work. He will gain pace as he gets stronger.
Bopara - averaging around 55 for Essex in the County Championship, Bopara should have been far ahead of Collingwood in the queue for Edgbaston selection. Shah similarly.
Horton - my Lancashire pick. Should be in the selectors' minds. Needs bigger scores.
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