Step up or miss out
Collingwood, Bell or Pietersen? Bumble says one faces the chop from England's World Cup XI.
Last Updated: 07/02/11 11:16am
I can see the Brisbane River from my hotel room and it's difficult to envisage how things were here just a few weeks ago.
We were due to be staying in another hotel 100 yards down the road, but that's still in darkness after the floods. From here I can see the river is still very muddy and the water level is still quite high, but the region is definitely getting back on its feet.
On Thursday night I went out for a drink in the Pig and Whistle; the pub by the river that was used by the Barmy Army during the Ashes. It was open for the first time since the floods and they've done very well to get it back into full working order.
Things are getting back to normal very quickly in the city, but there are obviously still problems in outlying areas. I know the Australian players have been up to visit Ipswich, where Shane Watson comes from. His house was on higher ground and escaped damage, but a lot of people were badly hit.
After all that's happened, Sunday's game will mean a lot to the people of Brisbane and it should be an emotional occasion at The Gabba.
Both teams want to win this series, but they're definitely more concerned about gearing up for the World Cup.
I wouldn't be surprised if Australia decide to give Brett Lee a rest here. Even though he's been their best bowler (in the first three matches at least) he needs a break at some point.
England will continue to chop and change to keep everybody fresh and in shape, but I think they're settled in what they want to do for the World Cup.
Matt Prior seems to have come good. Two ducks wasn't exactly the ideal start, but I feel it was the right decision to bring him in ahead of Steven Davies. The selectors have spoken of his energy behind the stumps and in my mind he is a more accomplished player.
The jury is out on whether he should open the batting, especially when Jonathan Trott is in such fantastic form. I don't understand why people are clamouring for Ian Bell to open when Trott averages 50 for his county.
This lad has batted 36 times as an opener for Warwickshire, scoring three centuries and twelve fifties. In contrast, Bell has only opened for them twice. But it seems they've made up their mind and they're going to go with Prior.
England know the make-up of their World Cup team and I reckon there are 12 names pencilled in, but they need to lose one batsman.
Those names are: Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Paul Collingwood, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Michael Yardy, Stuart Broad and James Anderson.
If you're going on form, you need to drop either Pietersen, Bell or Collingwood. Trott keeps getting runs and that has put them all under pressure.
Pietersen is your X-Factor player, but he simply isn't scoring enough runs at the moment. In the last two years he has averaged less than 20. It's not often you'd have a question mark next to his name, but there is one now.
Bell looked like England's best player in the Test matches, but we haven't been able to say that in the one-day game, so he is perhaps the most likely to miss out if he doesn't score any runs in the final three matches.
The selectors have given us massive signals that they want Collingwood in the team because he provides an extra bowler, but he's not getting runs and the fact that Trott bowled seven overs and took two wickets in Adelaide has put more heat on him.
I've seen interviews with him this week and he has stated that he needs more runs, but he feels he's going to click. Unfortunately there's not a lot of clicking to be done at number seven.
If they decide that Trott is up to the task of being the sixth bowler, then it's a straight shoot-out between Pietersen, Bell and Collingwood. I can't call it yet; we need to see how they get on in the next three matches.
The management team will make a decisive move somewhere along the line. We saw that with the wicket-keeping position and they'll do the same here.
One name I would have liked to have seen in the World Cup XV is that of my good friend Samit Patel.
He's a lovely lad, but he's missed out on a massive opportunity because his fitness wasn't up to scratch. I don't know how England have handled him, but I'd suggest the fitness team might have been able to do more with this vulnerable player.
Rather than leaving it to him, it would have been better to have him at the academy at Loughborough as long ago as September, monitoring him regularly. Maybe they did that, I don't know.
They're saying he doesn't have the mentality they're looking for in an England player, but perhaps you need to manage people like that. He'd be worth it because he's such a good player.
I don't see England winning the World Cup though. I'm backing India or Sri Lanka with Pakistan as the outsiders.
I've seen signs that Australia could challenge, especially if Michael Hussey is fit and Ricky Ponting comes back into the side. Those two make a massive difference.
World Cup woes
The World Cup is a sore point for me at the moment because ESPN, the company who are broadcasting the tournament, haven't sorted out our visas.
I know a number of commentators, not just the English ones, who still haven't been sorted out. This competition only comes around every four years!
I can't get a visa in Australia and it's going to be difficult to sort it out in the limited time that I'm back in England before the tournament. I'm staggered the host broadcaster have let this happen.
So I'm hoping you'll hear me commentating on the World Cup, but at the moment I can't make any guarantees.
Sort it out chaps.