It sounds more than a little callous, but for England's long-term development it is excellent news that the 'right men' failed today. Lavish praise is merited for Kevin Pietersen's exhilarating 152; Ian Bell's 199 - the innings that showed him as the classy, technically proficient and aesthetically-pleasing batsman we all know exists, but, unlike on so many other occasions, able to dominate an innings; and Stuart Broad's wonderfully mature 76, indicative of a man who may soon be a viable option at number seven. However, the twin failures for the two most vulnerable members of the side helped to clarify England's selection issues if, as expected, Andrew Flintoff returns for the second Test.
Paul Collingwood has looked desperately out-of-form in the Test side for some time, for all his scrapping qualities: he has averaged 33, 33, 41 and 11 and in his last four series. Whatever the evidence of a double-hundred against Australia, ultimately Collingwood may lack the technique to be a long-term success at Test level. Recently, he has not just failed but - in stark contrast to Bell's typically classy, but too often brief, knocks - appeared out of his depth, lacking the confidence to attack or even defend with authority, his innings characterised by a certain timidity. Even in CC cricket, he has been desperately short of runs. At 32, and with a pressing need for a shoulder operation, this could conceivably be his final Test. That would be a great shame for such a tenacious player, but his shortcomings have been painfully exposed of late.
Tim Ambrose barely had time to celebrate his superb, counter-attacking hundred in his second Test before the murmurings over his place began to appear. An inevitability of being any English keeper in the post-Stewart era? Perhaps. But, though this is only his seventh Test, the time is right to dispense with him: not only is he low on confidence but his batting technique seems fundamentally not up to the challenges of international cricket. His technique is fragile when denied the opportunity to feed his cut shot, as international bowlers have realised since his Test century: repeatedly, he has been dismissed playing half-heartedly, often with a closed face, to balls outside off-stump. In 12 international innings since that century, he has passed 11 only twice and 31 once - and even that when New Zealand's bowling was extremely loose. Add in the cracks that emerged in his keeping in the ODIs and it seems that Ambrose is the worst of both worlds. If you want someone who can score heavily for England, pick Matt Prior; if you want someone who can snaffle virtually every chance pick Chris Read or James Foster.
So a balanced side England could look to develop prior to first Ashes Test next summer is: