Thursday, 19 November 2009

Stormy start for England, and it's pretty soggy in the middle too

MICKEY ARTHUR, the South African coach who has seen his side lose their last five One-Day Internationals against England, chose to have another tilt at young Adil Rashid before today's rain-threatened opening 50-over clash at the Wanderers. With England suffering an injury crisis, Arthur will be hoping the ground - flooded by a typical early summer Highveld thunder storm yesterday - dries out in time for his side to pick up an early win in the five-match series. England have called up Kent's James Tredwell, 27, who took 95 wickets in all forms of the game last summer, to replace the stricken Graeme Swann, who has a side injury. But initially Rashid, 21, looks likely to be England's recognised slow bowler, despite figures of 0-44 against South Africa A at Potchefstroom earlier in the week and a disastrous over which went for four sixes in last Sunday's Twenty20 hammering. Arthur, whose side lost the last series 4-0 and were upset by England in the Champions Trophy at Centurion last month, said: "Rashid's the logical choice, but it will be interesting to see if Tredwell steps ahead of him. It would justify my saying that it doesn't look like England have faith in Rashid." Arthur expressed surprise when Rashid was taken off after just one over when he conceded those 25 runs at Centurion last week, leading to heated debate between the two sides who will do battle until the last day of the final Test, scheduled for the Wanderers on January 18 next year. Arthur, linked to the England job when Peter Moores left in January, added further spice by saying: "We will take some confidence from scoring at 12 an over against them last Sunday and the England bowlers would have had to go back, think about and analyse their performance. I know we would have after a day like that. "We played particularly well on Sunday, but England have played very well against us before that. They are still a work in progress, but they are a very good side and they can beat anyone on their day." England captain Andrew Strauss, who chose to sit out the two Twenty20 clashes, insists: "I don't think I've ever seen an England squad more motivated to do well. "Tredwell is definitely an option. He has deserved his chance, he has performed very well for Kent over a long period of time and is a very canny one-day operator. "But Rashid is improving all the time and the more exposure he gets the better. He needs to play too, but it's important that we get the right player for the game. Clearly, it's important that we have both options. "The 4-0 series win in England was a long time ago, in very different conditions. But we will take some confidence from beating them in a pressure situation out here in the Champions Trophy. "South Africa at home are hard to beat, they've shown that time and time again, but I like the way we've prepared and I like the brand of cricket we've played." Swann and Notts team-mate Stuart Broad (shoulder) are both definitely out of today's game while Paul Collingwood - aiming to make his record 171st ODI appearance to better Alec Stewart's record - and James Anderson face fitness tests today. Anderson lamented on twitter last night: "Rain washed out practice today. Looks bleak for tomorrow - ground underwater and not a great forecast."

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