Monday, March 10, 2008

Moores hints at team change

Running out of chances: Steve Harmison took a single wicket in Hamilton and is now fighting for his place...

Peter Moores, the England coach, has said a change in the team is likely for the second Test in Wellington starting on Thursday. England lost the first Test in Hamilton by 189 runs after being bowled out for 110 chasing 300 on the fifth day.

"Not everyone has had the game they wanted to, and we have to look at putting out the best XI to win the game and level the series," Moores said. "You would be stupid not to go away and evaluate it."

Steve Harmison has been targeted by critics for his poor performance - he took one wicket in the entire Test. In the second innings he bowled only four overs and went for 24 runs. Moores said he would discuss his performance with Harmison, who has taken 25 wickets at 39.08 from eight Tests since the beginning of 2007. "Steve has had a tough 12 months and has not performed to the level he would like to. A lot of things with elite sport is about confidence.

"If you feel someone is not working hard enough and trying hard enough you are going to speak to them. If someone is putting themselves under too much pressure you try to take the pressure off them. We do it individually with different players. Everyone has to work hard to help each other under pressure situations."

Moores added the team was bitterly disappointed at not salvaging a draw in Hamilton. "But I feel very strongly that we can win the second Test. We have to start playing the cricket we know we can. We have to get ourselves sorted."

Stuart Broad is the favourite to replace Harmison if the change is made and he would also add some depth to the lower order, a crucial difference between the two teams in Hamilton. Daniel Vettori produced vital runs in both innings while England's tail offered little to the cause.

James Anderson, England's other option, got through 38 overs for Auckland in his State Championship appearance and picked up two wickets. However, he is another swing bowler in the mould of Matthew Hoggard and Ryan Sidebottom so Broad's extra height would provide different challenge.

James Whitaker, one of England's two part-time selectors, has been asked to stay on the tour for a few extra days as the possible changes are discussed. He was due to fly home on Monday but has now travelled with the squad to Wellington.

"I think it just makes sense for James to stay out here," Moores said. "He's got no pressing commitments when he gets back - so for him to change his flight and come to Wellington for a couple of days until the start of the Test match made sense.

"When the dust settles over the next couple of days we'll be having conversations, and it makes sense for the selector to be around and be involved in those conversations until we finalise that team for the next Test."