Flintoff set for Ashes finale, England call up Trott
LONDON: Andrew Flintoff stayed on course to make his farewell to Test cricket in next week's final Ashes match here at the Oval after being named in a 14-man squad on Sunday along with Jonathan Trott.
Uncapped Warwickshire batsman Trott is now set to make a high-pressure Test debut against Australia when the series finale starts on Thursday in a match England must win to regain the Ashes.
Trott, who saw off competition from the likes of Mark Ramprakash and Rob Key, is in line to replace Ravi Bopara after the out-of-form batsman was dropped from the squad completely.
England also gave themselves additional bowling options by recalling left-arm spinner Monty Panesar to the squad while retaining left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom
"Ravi Bopara has been going through a tough time with the bat in this series and we have decided to leave him out of the squad for this game," said England national selector Geoff Miller.
"Ravi's omission means Jonathan Trott will make his Test debut at the Brit Oval," the former England off-spinner, who said Ian Bell would move up into Bopara's position of number three from number four, added.
"Having been part of the squad at Headingley, he was the next batsman in line in our view and this rewards him for the excellent form he has shown in county cricket both this summer and with England Lions over the winter.
"Ian Bell will bat at three next week which is a position he has occupied for Engand before and we were delighted to see both him and Jonathan make centuries for Warwickshire this week," Miller said.
South Africa born Trott was included as squad batting cover for Flintoff at Headingley, a match England lost by an innings and 80 runs as Australia levellled the Ashes at 1-1 with one to play, but was ultimately left out of the side as England decided to bring in another fast bowler in Stephen Harmison rather than bolster their top order.
But England's double collapse in Leeds saw batsmen Bopara, Bell and Paul Collingwood manage just 16 runs between them.
Trott, in a sign of his impending promotion, was pulled from the second string England Lions playing Australia in a two-day warm-up match at Canterbury that started on Saturday.
The 28-year-old reinforced his case for a Test call earlier this week with 121 for Warwickshire, whose director of cricket Ashley Giles is also an England selector, against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
That was his fourth first-class hundred of the season and took his overall tally to 1,046 runs at an average of 80.46.
"It's been a good few days for me, and I've picked a good one (to make my debut)," Trott told Sky Sports.
"I went into the changing room last week (at Headingley) and I felt really welcome and comfortable, so I've just got to make sure my own mind and game is in order, and make sure I take my opportunity."
However Australia batsman Michael Hussey, speaking on Saturday, said of Trott: "He's obviously playing very well. But it is a big step up from first-class cricket to Tests, no question about that."
England's middle-order has struggled in the absence of Kevin Pietersen, their star batsman, and like Trott, born in South Africa, after he was ruled out of the series following the second Test with an Achilles injury.
All-rounder Flintoff, the hero of England's triumphant 2005 Ashes campaign, was controversially left out at Headingley after the selectors feared his longstanding knee injury meant he would not get through the match.
During the game his fellow Lancashire pace bowler James Anderson suffered a hamstring injury but Miller said he anticipated both players to be available for selection.
Flintoff, the bowling star of England's second Test win at Lord's and their top-scorer in the drawn third Test at Edgbaston, has been desperate to play a full part throughout the campaign after announcing on the eve of the Lord's match this would be the final Test series of his injury-plagued career.
England's selectors now face a tricky problem, with their side needing to take 20 wickets to win at the Oval.
Assuming they recall Flintoff and retain Harmison, their quickest bowlers, someone else will have to make way and that will also be the case if they play a second spinner in Panesar.
Australia need only a draw at the Oval to retain the Ashes they won 5-0 on home soil in 2006/07.
Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Paul Collingwood, Matthew Prior (wkt), Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Stephen Harmison, Graham Onions, Monty Panesar, Ryan Sidebottom