Michael Vaughan has been given an unchanged XII for the second Test match at Edgbaston starting on Thursday.

That means - injury excepted - an unchanged team for a match England must avoid defeat if the Ashes series is to stay alive, with Chris Tremlett selected only as cover for the other pace bowlers.

Your correspondent spoke to chairman David Graveney on a radio programme yesterday and he said: "It would not have made any sense either to change the side or even to add another player such as Paul Collingwood to the squad. That would have sent out the wrong message to the team, even though they lost the Lord's Test and were particularly disappointing on the fourth day.

"We have built a confident dressing-room by continuity of selection, and not chopping and changing because of one defeat. That is not to say we are happy with their overall performance in the first Test but rather a case of telling them 'get back on the bike and show us that you can do better.'

"We selectors believe that this is our best side and ask them to go out and compete throughout five days, rather than have poor sessions as we did at Lord's."

So was Collingwood's trio of centuries in the week meaningless?

"No. It tells us that a cricketer we know cares passionately about playing for his country is in top form. With back-to-back Test matches putting a big strain on everyone, it is good to know he is in top form."

There might be only two Tests this month that finish and start in the same week but the stupid compression of five Tests into seven weeks makes even more important any result at Edgbaston other than a home defeat. England must score enough runs to keep out of trouble on a surface that, because of recent rain, is bound to lack the pace and carry which so delighted Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne at Lord's.

The match is scheduled to finish a week today and three days later at Old Trafford Stuart MacGill is likely to join Warne on the same pitch on which the latter announced himself is such sensational fashion 12 years ago.

Whatever pitch head groundsman Steve Rouse produces - he is severely handicapped by lack of good drying weather - the key weak areas of the Lord's match must all be redressed to avoid going 2- 0 down. These include the opening pair, the wicketkeeper and the ability of the over-sensitive Ashley Giles to concentrate all his efforts on doing the sort of job he has done so brilliantly in the last 14 months.

He has done two jobs - a holding one when it was necessary to rest the fast men, and a wicket-taking one when the ball has turned. Nobody is trying to compare him with Warne but he must bowl 20 overs in every 90 England bowl.

If the openers fail again the middle order is immediately under pressure. If Geraint Jones adds to the ten chances he has spilled in 17 Tests - not all of them difficult - and does not maintain a consistently acceptable level of glove work, the Australians will profit accordingly.

As for Giles, he will surely regret in time his outburst about criticism from explayers. He has a regular column for a broadsheet but was drawn into a tabloid rant that did nobody any good, particularly his spurious hint at "possible private agendas."

There is a long queue of former England players - some now behind a microphone - who succumbed in their playing days to a dressing-room siege mentality in a vain attempt to hit back at what they saw as unfair comment.

These include Mike Brearley - remember his attack on the media in Ian Botham's Headingley Test in 1981? Remember David Gower walking out of a Saturday evening press conference at Lord's, and also abruptly terminating a press conference on the rest day of the historic Madras Test against India in 1985?

What about the monosyllabic efforts of Bob Willis and Mike Atherton made in protest at what they deemed to be unintelligent lines of questioning from admittedly "quote happy" journalists? Your correspondent remembers the lot because he was there.

Graveney was asked on radio yesterday: "Do you think there has been too much talk from the England players that has contributed to the vastly over-hyped lead into the Ashes series?"

"Yes I do, and some of it has been regrettable. I understand that several players are contracted to provide regular newspaper columns but would point out that the captain opted out of his in case there was a conflict of interest. That said, I would prefer the players to let their actions speak for them on the field."

The England players made little secret of their intention before the first Test to stand toe-to-toe with the Australians to let them know they were not to be pushed about. Fine, except the act that really got up the Antipodean noses at Lord's was when they studiously stood 20 yards away in a group while Ricky Ponting received running repairs for a bleeding cut on his right cheek.

Nobody observed the ordinary courtesy of inquiring about his wellbeing even if they hoped it was not 100 per cent. Justin Langer said: "It is just common decency to ask if a guy is OK. What were they trying to prove?"

Whatever it was it did nothing than sour unnecessarily relations between the sides - Vaughan received an almighty earful from, among others, Ponting while he took guard in the first innings.

England's best chance is to concentrate on batting, bowling and fielding. Word games don't help, because the next Australian who shows he is a mentally weak shrinking violet ready to be shrivelled up by a verbal onslaught will be the first.

They can be beaten by England posting a decent first-innings total, and by catching well and bowling as a unit.

Each side took 20 wickets at Lord's but Australia went in with four bowlers to five by England, and their haul of 20 wickets was split only three ways. If ever the fourth bowler joins in . . .