England’s cricket selectors have taken a massive gamble for the fifth and final Ashes Test by drafting in Warwickshire batsman Jonathan Trott for his Test debut.
Trott replaces Ravi Bopara, who failed in the previous four tests at number three in the batting order. Ian Bell will now move up to bat at three with Trott at four.
The fifth Test, which begins at the Oval on Thursday, amounts to a winner takes all cricket cup final. So far the markets have not reacted significantly to England’s announcement. Australia remain clear favourites at 2.6 to win the Ashes after levelling the series in ruthless style at Headingley last week. England can be backed at 5.7 with the draw a 2.22 shot.
The news comes after a week of speculation as players and pundits called for the recall of Marcus Trescothick, Robert Key or even 39-year-old Surrey veteran Mark Ramprakash.
Bell’s place was also believed to be under threat and there was talk of sacrificing Alistair Cook. However, England coach Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss urged the selectors against dramatic alterations to the batting order as they believed it would represent an acknowledgement of mistakes and encourage the Australians.
If England triumph at the Oval, Strauss’ intervention will be regarded as a masterpiece of composed captaincy. If they lose, history will view him as a weak captain who was afraid to wield the axe.
Trott strengthened his case with a century for Warwickshire against Nottinghamshire on Friday in a game which also saw Bell hit 126 as the two combined for a third wicket stand of 188.
Facing an in-form Aussie attack at the Oval will be a tougher proposition but Trott is optimistic that he can transfer his county form to what will be an intense Test arena.
He said: “I’ve been playing pretty well this season and I hope I can continue to do so next week.
“I’ll try to stay relaxed and let nature take its course and remember it’s just a game of cricket.
“The pressure is on Australia to retain the Ashes. We’re going for the win and hopefully our positive approach will work.”
England Squad for Fifth Ashes Test: A Strauss (captain), J Anderson, I Bell, S Broad, P Collingwood, A Cook, A Flintoff, S Harmison, G Onions, M Panesar, M Prior, R Sidebottom, G Swann, J Trott.
Reproduced with permission from betting.betfair.com. Ã‚Â© The Sporting Exchange Limited
MORE: The latest football news
MORE: The latest tennis news
BIOGRAPHY: Marcus Rashford