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Flower confident despite Colly dilemma
Coach Andy Flower is confident England have the personnel to carry them out for the third Test against South Africa without Paul Collingwood.
Middle-order batsman Collingwood is rated only "50-50" to be fit to face South Africa at Newlands, and his absence would almost certainly mean a debut for either Michael Carberry or Luke Wright.

A final fitness test tomorrow will decide whether Collingwood takes the field on Sunday in a series England lead 1-0 with two to play after their innings victory in Durban.

Flower made it clear that - specifically in Carberry, called up as specialist batting cover when Collingwood dislocated his left index finger at Kingsmead - he has supreme confidence.

Collingwood is in perhaps the best form of his life in all formats, but Flower appears unfazed by the prospect of having to get by without him in such a crucial Test.

"If he goes out, we'll lose some of that experience," he concedes.

"But you gain in another way if the debutant comes in and kicks off his international career.

"We're not worried. If he can't play, he can't play - we'll get on with it."

Left-hander Carberry, used to playing higher up the order in county cricket than Collingwood's Test number five slot, had a prolific 2009 season for Hampshire - and has impressed Flower so far in the Newlands nets.

There are also no regrets about having no existing batting cover in the tour squad, and therefore having to fly Carberry back to South Africa from England at short notice.

"We made that decision in the knowledge that if a specialist batsman got injured, we'd have to pull someone out of the performance squad that has been training in South Africa and has gone back to England only very recently," Flower explained.

"Carberry is in good form. He's been scoring runs out here in South Africa, so we're quite comfortable with that situation.

"Michael Carberry coming in is like any debutant. He'll be excited and nervous but certainly looking forward to the opportunity.

"The way he batted in the nets this morning, I'd feel very confident when he strode out to the middle."

If 29-year-old Carberry was not already optimistic of a debut, the vibes from Flower indicate he should be.

Wright should not despair, though - because the coach added: "The all-rounder option is always there, has been for the first two Tests and is again for this one."

Whoever faces South Africa in a Test which could result in England wrapping up a series victory, Flower is wary of the hosts' outstanding track record at Newlands.

"It's a challenge for all our players to take on South Africa here," he said.

"They've got a very good record here - they've won 14 out of the last 18 Test matches - and I'm sure they'll feel confident coming back here."

In fact, only Australia have beaten South Africa at this ground in the modern era - and England have lost in each of their three attempts.

Their innings victory in Durban, however, means they arrive this time with enviable confidence.

Reflecting on the Kingsmead success, Flower is hugely heartened - but still mindful England's job is just half done.

"All round, it was a great performance from our side," he agreed.

"We're one up - a great position to be in - but we're only halfway through a Test series.

"That means there's a lot of hard work to do in this Cape Town Test. But I know that our guys are looking forward to the challenge of taking South Africa on here.

"We're in the lead now, so the challenge for us is to actually improve on our performance from the last Test.

"I'm not talking specifically about the margins. But I am talking about our attitude, our work ethic and how we approach this battle."

South Africa have tougher questions to answer - namely whether to change a losing side, and the feasibility of keeping faith with out-of-form veteran pace bowler Makhaya Ntini.

Middle-order batsman JP Duminy is another whose place could be under threat, and coach Mickey Arthur today hinted there is likely to be at least one change to captain Graeme Smith's team.
 
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