Tim De Lisle has an excellent Cricinfo column on England’s woeful selection strategy. He argues the team has arrived at its woeful current position — with only Kevin Pietersen as an attacking batsman, and no one as an attacking bowler — because the country’s selection committee prefers conservative choices to risks:
When you don’t have a born No. 3, a Ponting or a Dravid, the classic plan B is to pick a third opener, a David Boon or a Mark Butcher. England don’t have a third opener in sight. Why? Because they have picked Cook so often. England’s five specialist batsmen have the same problem as their five bowlers: most of them can’t take a match by the scruff of the neck.
Kevin Pietersen can, obviously, when not going through with a crazy shot like a bore in the bar who insists on finishing his point. Ravi Bopara has the personality, but it would be asking a lot for him to do it against Australia at this stage (when Ponting was his age, he was down at No. 6). Strauss, Cook and Collingwood – heroic though he was yesterday – strike fear into nobody. Like Flintoff, Broad and Panesar, they shouldn’t all be in the same team. If England beat Australia with this line-up, they will be defying gravity.
In a way, then, Flintoff’s latest injury could possibly change the side’s mental framework for the better. Sure, they may draft Harmison, which wouldn’t be a bad choice, but they could also go for broke and complete the team’s renovation, employing Graham Onions. Regardless, with no Flintoff, they’ll know for sure they aren’t playing 2005 anymore.