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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK
Jonathan Agnew column
Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Simon Jones (left) takes a wicket
Jones (left) impressed in a rare outing with a new white ball
The elements conspired to ensure that the preview of the NatWest Series final ended with honours even but it is England who have been left with questions to answer.

All new-ball bowlers come under extreme pressure in this form of the game, but England do not appear to be sure of what their best partnership should be.

So far in this series, Darren Gough has always taken the new ball when he has played - he sat one game out against Bangladesh.

But he has had no fewer than three partners: Jon Lewis, Chris Tremlett and, now, Simon Jones.

Meanwhile, Gough has not taken a single wicket in his opening spells, and wicket-taking is key to restricting the batting team in those crucial first fifteen overs.

Lewis came into the team on the back of a very successful run at Gloucestershire and, with his late outswing, he is a natural wicket-taker.

England must consider teaming Jones with Steve Harmison at the start since they are two the most likely to take early wickets

He claimed three early victims in his debut against Bangladesh, but it seems the England management fear he does not have the necessary pace to succeed at this level.

Nor do they seem to think he can bowl effectively and economically either when the ball does not swing or when he comes back later in the innings.

Tremlett is regarded as a very promising prospect, but will need more time and opportunity to look entirely at home in an England shirt.

His high action will be very useful on pitches that are offering uneven bounce, but I am not sure he yet does enough with the new ball to worry international opening batsmen, particularly when Gough is not taking wickets.

And that brings us to Simon Jones who, during the winter, rarely bowled with a red ball until it was at least 40 overs old.

Now he is being entrusted with a new white one and, a few rusty deliveries last Sunday apart, looks capable of doing a good job.

For a start, he swings the ball away from the right-hander and, importantly, into the left which should give Hayden and Gilchrist something to think about.

Gough will survive in the short term because he remains one of England's best bowlers at the end of the innings.

But the management must consider teaming Jones with Steve Harmison at the start since they are two the most likely to take early wickets.


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