The Ashes Squad
The squad the selectors named at 3pm today looks more like a desperate gambler's last throw of the dice than a sensible balanced team, capable of enduring the hardest of tours. I can't help fearing that they have got in badly wrong.
Flintoff is an ambitious choice as captain. Strauss would have been a safer pair of hands as he led England to a series victory against Pakistan and saw his own form improve under the burden of captaincy. As captain Flintoff could only manage a draw against a vulnerable Sri Lankan team. The jury is still out regarding Flintoff's leadership. He is an inspirational character, but has yet to show whether he has the tactical skills necessary to be a successful captain. He is also currently injured, with no guarantee that he will be match fit when the first test starts in November.
Flintoff isn't the only player in the squad with fitness concerns. In fact four of the other 15 are major doubts. Giles hasn't bowled all season, nor has Anderson and like the injured Plunkett he is yet to prove himself at international level. Trescothick has averaged under 20 since the Ashes and had to desert the England team in India because he couldn't cope with the stress. The decision to take only 6 batsmen is clearly a big risk. As for the bowlers it is a over a year since Simon Jones limped out of the Trent Bridge test. England still have not found his replacement.
The selectors appear to have decided that the only way England can retain the ashes is for the injured key players to recover in time. I fear that they are playing fantasy cricket.