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Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Sunday, 9 August 2009 15:42 UK

Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Kent's Rob Key
I would replace Ravi Bopara at The Oval with Rob Key, a proven three in county cricket and a calm, phlegmatic character

The full house at Headingley was royally entertained and England's tailenders enjoyed themselves as they put the Australian attack to the sword.

For a while it looked like a different game, until the final wicket was taken and reality took hold again.

The final morning apart, England were comprehensively outplayed by Australia and now must win the final Test of the series at the Oval to regain the Ashes.

There have been hysterical calls for the axeing of many of the team including - although Mark Butcher laughed at the suggestion when I put it to him - that Mark Ramprakash should be called up for the match that now assumes cup final proportions.

England have said emphatically that they will not be panicked into making changes, but they must seriously look at the line up in the middle order that managed only 16 runs in the match.

Andy Flower, the coach, focused on England's batting woes, and to be bowled out for only 102 meant that England were probably out of the game already.

But most alarming, I thought, was the bowling which was nothing short of appalling.

The fact that all four fast bowlers ditched the basic principle of line and length and gave away so many free hits was bewildering.

The question for the selectors is whether they dare play the same players at the Oval after such a miserable performance as this.


Ravi Bopara got a poor decision in the second innings and so his dismissal did not answer too many questions. What we do not know is what impact that golden duck will have on his confidence.

Regular readers of this column will know that I have never been happy about Bopara at three.

I think he can bat, and would be a fine number five or six, but his technique is not tight enough to cope with the new ball and a pressure situation.

I would replace him at The Oval with Rob Key, a proven three in county cricket and a calm, phlegmatic character.

There does seem to be an issue with him and the England management, though.

If not, surely he would have been chosen here rather than Jonathan Trott, who has been in good form, but could not be expected to bat at three. Key could bat anywhere and would have been a much more logical choice as batting cover.

What we know for sure is that there will now be a week of frenzied debate about what England should or should not do before we can focus properly on what will be a wonderful sporting finale at the Oval.

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see also
Aussies win to level Ashes series
09 Aug 09 |  England
Flower hints at batting changes
09 Aug 09 |  England
England v Australia photos
09 Aug 09 |  Cricket
Jonathan Agnew column
08 Aug 09 |  England
Classic Ashes clashes: Headingley
04 Aug 09 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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