Cow Corner

It’s a knockout

Cow Corner

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At the risk of enraging yesterday's edition of itself, Cow Corner thinks the insertion of Paul Collingwood at Stuart Broad's expense might just do the trick for England in the third Test against South Africa.

Removing a bowler might seem like a strange way to improve a team that can't take wickets, but Cowers reckons the England selectors have done the right thing for Edgbaston.

England have taken 13 wickets at 70.4 each in their last 343 overs in the field, but their bowling attack has lacked quality, not quantity.

Ryan Sidebottom's inclusion for Darren Pattinson is a no-brainer, but Collingwood's selection ahead of Broad is more contentious.

Broad just looks like a great cricketer. He is young, tall, fresh-faced and floppy-haired, and also has his gene pool working for him thanks to his former England opener of a dad, Chris.

He moves like a cricketer - so much so that he has drawn comparisons to Glenn McGrath with the ball and Gary Sobers with the bat - that latter compliment coming from the normally less-than-effusive Geoffrey Boycott.

Everybody loves Broad, and it's not hard to see why. He is a highly promising bowler and genuinely talented bat - not an all-rounder perhaps but not far off.

But, for the moment at least, he is an expensive, inaccurate McGrath who doesn't take many wickets - three for 288 against the Proteas - and a Sobers who bats behind Tim Ambrose.

In contrast, Collingwood does not look the part, nor will he ever, despite boasting astonishing natural gifts and a hint of the Jonty Rhodes in the field.

Yes, he has been in rotten touch, but he still averages over 40 in Tests, and it's not like the rest of the top six have set the world alight either - only Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen can be described as anything like 'in form'.

The problem with Collingwood is his awkward, crabby technique, his pasty skin and ginger hair.

He looks like a man who is waiting to fail, and yet he is one of England's toughest players.

The counter-intuitive reality is that the redder Colly's face gets, the more likely he is to grind his way for three figures. Cowers hopes for a scorching few days in the West Midlands.

The selectors' faith in Andrew Flintoff's ankle carrying a greater load is not so much a gamble as a necessity.

He just doesn't offer enough with the bat to be a 'luxury' bowling option, particularly with the useless Ambrose around.

And with England opting for a four-pronged attack, Broad's only hope was as a batting all-rounder.

Would he have produced more at Edgbaston than Collingwood? On current form, it seems possible. But the lanky seamer has too many holes in his technique to become a top-class Test batsman.

A very competent number eight averaging 25-30 seems to be his destiny - a less geeky Daniel Vettori.

The inclusion of Steve Harmison in the squad proved just a cunning ruse to send Chris Tremlett into a homicidal rage.

Kent may have to face some chin music when they face Tremlett at Canterbury tomorrow.

Meanwhile the Durham man must also flounce his way back to the county game, and a merciful international retirement cannot be far behind.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Sometimes I seem to have that lack of oxygen getting to my brain and it seemed a way of explaining myself on the field. I named him Gunther" Andre Nel is a loon, and so is his German alter-ego.

PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Yes, Ravi Bopara's 59-ball 112 for Essex in last night's Pro40 was a hell of a knock, but it would never have happened if not for the Derbyshire ground staff. They erected a makeshift wooden screen to block out the setting sun - Essex responded by thrashing 304 for one in their 40 overs.

COMING UP: Leicestershire take on Warwickshire in more Pro40 action from 4.30.

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