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England make two changes

cricket Updated: Aug 07, 2008 10:48 IST

AFP
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England have made two changes to their team for Kevin Pietersen's debut Test as captain against South Africa, starting at The Oval on Thursday.

Ryan Sidebottom, England's leading wicket taker this year, is replaced by Stuart Broad for the fourth and final match of the series, while Steve Harmison comes in for former skipper Michael Vaughan, leaving no place for Ravi Bopara.

The decision to ignore Essex batsman Bopara as Vaughan's replacement means England have reverted to a five-man bowling attack, despite failing to score more than 250 in the first innings of the last two Tests.

Ian Bell has been promoted to his favoured number three position, while all-rounder Andrew Flintoff will bat at number six having played at seven in the two previous Tests.

It will be Harmison's first Test since the opening defeat against New Zealand in Hamilton last March, while Board is back after being rested at Edgbaston.

Tim Ambrose, picked at number eight at Headingley and number six at Edgbaston, once again has to move to number seven to accommodate the return of Flintoff at six.

After successive defeats at Headingley and Edgbaston handed South Africa the series, Pietersen's side have the chance to salvage some pride in south London and the new skipper is happy with the attacking line-up.

"I'm going to go with four fast bowlers and Monty (Panesar)," Pietersen said.

"I think it is an aggressive move, a positive move. We need to take 20 wickets in this Test - you need to take 20 in any Test - and I feel a lot more comfortable with four fast bowlers.

"We've given responsibility to the batters to score runs with Colly (Paul Collingwood) at five, Freddie (Andrew Flintoff) at six, Timmy (Ambrose) seven and Broad eight. I'm looking forward to getting started.

"I like Steve and what he brings to the team. He's had his ups and downs but I have a really good relationship with Steve.

"He seems as excited as anything and he had a bit of a bounce in his step.

"I like Steve in the side. Mooresy (coach Peter Moores) and I are singing from the same hymn sheet at the moment. It's all positive."