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Published: Thursday, November 15, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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London: England selected two uncapped players on Friday to make up the 16-man party for the tour to India following the decisions of Andrew Caddick and Robert Croft not to make the trip because of security concerns.[an error occurred while processing this directive]Gloucestershire off spinner Martyn Ball and Somerset seamer Richard Johnson were the men chosen after three days of discussion among the selectors.Ball was picked ahead of county team-mate Jeremy Snape and the more experienced Phil Tufnell, while Johnson was called up despite competition from Yorkshire's Chris Silverwood.Their selections mean England will travel to India for its first tour in eight years with one of its most inexperienced attacks ever - the three-strong spin attack have just eight Test appearances between them while the three seamers have featured just three times between them.Only five members of the 16-man squad have played more than 20 Tests and just two players - captain Nasser Hussain and Graham Thorpe - have more than 50 appearances to their name.England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, said, "It was a close call as to who was going to replace Andrew Caddick. We considered Chris Silverwood and Martin Bicknell as well as Richard Johnson. "But we opted for Richard because he has the ability to swing the ball at pace, hits the deck hard and can bowl long spells. He has also taken wickets on one of the best batting pitches in the country at Taunton and is likely to face similar conditions in India."Having talked to Dean Conway (England's physiotherapist) and taken advice from medical specialists, we believe that Ashley Giles' (like Tufnell, a left-arm spinner) recovery from his Achilles injury is very much on track. "While he still has to regain his cricket fitness, we are confident from a medical point of view that he will pass a fitness test next week and be available for selection in India. "In the light of this, we decided to look for a 'like-for-like' replacement for Robert Croft. Martyn Ball had a very good season in four-day cricket with Gloucestershire and has been an integral part of their success in Limited Overs cricket in recent years. He is used to the big match atmosphere having played in several Lord's finals, is an outstanding slip-catcher and a good team-man."An understandably delighted Ball said, "I was ecstatic when David Graveney phoned me with the news and will be thrilled to bits to be getting on the plane with the rest of the squad. "As a 31-year-old, I did wonder if perhaps my chance of an England cap might have gone, said Ball who took 34 first-class wickets at 25.85 runs apiece in the summer."But the last season with Gloucestershire went extremely well for me and I feel that I have matured both as a spinner and with the bat during that time."Johnson, formerly of Middlesex, has been close to England selection in the past and was called up into the squad during this season's home Test campaign.He admitted that this might be his last chance to shine at international level."I'm very happy to have been chosen and after being involved in the summer hopefully I will get a chance to show what I can do. "It didn't really enter my head not to go on tour. This might be the only opportunity I get with England and I want to try and take it. But it is a difficult decision for people to make and I accept that not everyone faces the same set of circumstances as I do."