To say that Mr President hates to be wrong would be a huge understatement, but there are times when nothing gives him greater pleasure. Recently he wrote that, so as to find a place for Flintoff, England’s selectors would be forced to choose between Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood. This wasn’t what he was wrong about, in fact he stands by that.
What he didn’t say in that piece, but was definitely thinking to himself, was that it should be Bell who made way. There has never been any doubt that Bell is the most technically gifted batsman in England’s side, but there has never been the same sense of certainty about his mentality. He made pretty runs but all too often unimportant ones.
Has he answered this criticism with his 199 against South Africa? No, not yet. But there are signs that he might just have a bit more bottle than many gave him credit for. There are few pace bowling attacks as deadly as the Proteas’ and England were looking down the barrel of a batting collapse, having lost three quick wickets, when he came in.
Since he’s in the mood for admitting mistakes, Mr President was also an idiot to suggest Tim Ambrose could bat at six. He came to the crease with England in a great position, a settled batsman at the other end, and failed. It was a decent delivery, but he played an uncertain shot. With his failures in the One Day arena and England still keen to field the same Wicketkeeper in both forms, could Matt Prior be recalled, batting at six?
That would allow Flintoff to bat at seven but is Prior’s glovework good enough?