Harmison out, Collingwood in

Steve Harmison won’t be making his Test comeback to face South Africa at Edgbaston. Paul Collingwood, is recalled after being dropped at Headingley while Ryan Sidebottom is fit again. As expected Stuart Broad has been left out after showing signs of fatigue in recent weeks.

The pitch at Edgbaston is not expected to be quick and bouncy but could assist the swing bowlers, a factor that will have swayed Michael Vaughan and Peter Moores’s decision over the team. Even though the hot weather of recent days is forecast to break up during the Test there is still the possibility of the surface taking turn, therefore Monty Panesar becomes much more of an attacking option than he was in Leeds.

So after one Test with a five-man attack, England are back to four frontline bowlers with Collingwood in support. Collingwood has scraped together 92 runs in nine first-class innings this season, and hasn’t played in that format since the Lord’s Test, but at least he has found some one-day form with Durham. His recall means Tim Ambrose will fall two places from No. 6 to No. 8 and Andrew Flintoff remains at No. 7.

The break between Tests has given Vaughan the chance to spend some time at the National Academy at Loughborough and work on his technique, and he believes he’ll come back stronger.

Flintoff and James Anderson had a lot of bowling at Headingley, so Sidebottom’s return will be a huge boost for Vaughan. It’ll be vital for England that he recovers the zip which was missing at Lord’s. “Ryan’s bowled all week, and he’s confident he’s back to being that snappy bowler he was in the winter and early on in the summer,” said Vaughan. “The week will testify that, but he looks to have a bit more confidence back.”

The team selection is tough on Broad, who has been England’s most consistent batsman of the series so far, but as Vaughan conceded, it is his lack of wickets that has prompted the change. “He’s been left out for his bowling,” he said. “We’ve all seen what a good cricketer he is, and will be for England. His batting is very consistent – I’ve no doubt he’ll climb the order eventually – but he’s bowled a lot of overs and is starting to look a little jaded. It’s a good time to get out of the firing line, go and play for his county, and I’ve no doubt he’ll be back in the team sooner rather than later.”

Harmison, meanwhile, remains in the background, and could yet feature in the series if England fail to make the most of Edgbaston’s conditions. He’s obviously not in the eleven this week, but who’s to say he won’t be in the eleven at The Oval the week after.”

– About Cricket –
Sandesh Kumar Jaggi

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