England on verge of landmark

Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2008, 19:26 [IST]
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Nottingham: England captain Michael Vaughan announced an unchanged side here Wednesday for the third and final Test against New Zealand, a decision that means they are on the brink of equalling a record that has stood for over 100 years.

Not since 1884/85 in Australia have England fielded an unchanged side for five successive Tests.

But, late injuries permitting, they will do that when the series climax starts at Trent Bridge here on Thursday.

Kevin Pietersen was hit on the hand during practice Wednesday but the batsman is expected to be fit.

A win in this match for England will see them take the three-match campaign 2-0 after their six-wicket success last week at Old Trafford followed a drawn opener at Lord's.

England have kept the same XI since the second Test in New Zealand in March, where James Anderson and Stuart Broad replaced the dropped pace bowling duo of Matthew Hoggard and Stephen Harmison after England had lost the series opener.

But they recovered to take that three-match series 2-1.

Now, as at Old Trafford, Hampshire fast bowler Chris Tremlett drops out of a 12-man squad.

"It will be the same team, it's quite incredible really," Vaughan told reporters here Wednesday. "It's a sign we've won a few games but we know there are areas to work on."

England have failed to score 400 - regarded as the benchmark for a competitive total - in the first innings of their last 11 Tests but Vaughan denied this meant the top order had become a "closed shop".

"When you've won three out of four, to say it's a closed shop those are not the right words to use. There are a lot of guys knocking on the door, a lot of experienced guys.

"We realise we have to score more runs in the first innings, it's what the best teams in the world do. But we've showed a lot of character and resilience we wouldn't have done six or seven months ago."

Two members of England's three-man pace attack, Ryan Sidebottom and Broad, play at Trent Bridge for Nottinghamshire.

The ground has a reputation for assisting swing bowlers and Vaughan is looking to the duo, as well as Anderson, to take advantage.

"It's an opportunity for the swing bowlers in the side to show how good they are," Vaughan added. "The lads have been saying 84 percent (of wickets this season at Trent Bridge) have been caught behind or in the slips.

"If you look at our three (quick) bowlers, swing is probably their strength," Yorkshire batsman Vaughan added.

"The two teams are pretty evenly matched. New Zealand always make it very difficult but we've got our noses in front."

Meanwhile Vaughan was unconcerned by a report in Britain's Daily Telegraph that New Zealand's bowlers were planning to wear trousers made of material specially designed to increase shine and so aid swing bowling.

"I think Yorkshire have them as well, they haven't helped them," he said.

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