England face tough choice over second Test attack
LONDON (AFP) – England captain Alastair Cook admitted Wednesday the selectors faced some awkward decisions about the final composition of their bowling attack for the second Test against Australia at Lord's starting on Thursday.
Steven Finn took two wickets in two balls and narrowly missed a hat-trick during Australia's first innings of the first Test at Trent Bridge last week in a match Ashes-holders England won by 14 runs.
However, on a slow pitch not suited to his style, fast bowler Finn was not called upon by Cook until 30 overs of Australia's second innings chase had passed and was then promptly targeted by Brad Haddin before being quickly removed from the attack.
England's 13-man squad contains two rivals for Finn's third seamer place in Tim Bresnan, a better batsman, and Graham Onions, renowned for his accuracy.
However, the second Test is at Lord's, Finn's Middlesex home ground, where the tall paceman has taken 29 wickets at a miserly average of 20.65 in five Tests, compared to a more expensive career average of 29.40.
"Obviously you try and be as loyal as you can to your players when you've won a Test match," Cook told a Lord's news conference on Wednesday. "You want players confident they're going to get a good run.
But on the other hand you always pick a side you think can win the Test and you do have to make tough decisions.
"I'd love to say the guys who play under me feel they've got my backing but you do have to take tough decisions for the good of the side.
"You need to look at the best balanced attack in the conditions available. We all know you need 20 wickets to win a Test match. Sometimes there are different ways of going about that.
"Part of the skill of being a selector or to weigh up all those conundrums and try to get right answers in the end."
But Cook said local conditions were a factor as well.
"Your record at a certain place can play a part," Cook said. "You always try to find the balance of the attack for the conditions you find; past form and past bowling (at a venue) is very important."