England tour of India - Cricket: England in a spin over Giles fitness

Published: Monday, November 26, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Jaipur: England on Tuesday begins its last practice match before the Test series against India struggling to determine the fitness of its only experienced spinner Ashley Giles.The 28-year-old Warwickshire left-armer is the kingpin of the English spin attack since the only other specialist slow bowlers in the squad, Richard Dawson and Martyn Ball, have yet to play a Test.Giles has not played in the previous two warm-up matches in Bombay and Hyderabad to enable him to recover fully from an Achilles operation in September.The only time he appeared on the field on the current tour was as a substitute at Hyderabad, limping around the boundary lines for close to two hours.If Giles is to play in the first Test at Mohali from December 3, England will want to give him a chance to settle in during the three-day match against India 'A' at the Sawai Man Singh stadium.The touring management said it would wait till Tuesday morning before making a final decision on playing Giles here.Giles has so far taken 26 wickets from eight Tests, but his contribution was noticible when England scored creditable Test series wins in Pakistan and Sri Lanka last season.If Giles is not fit enough to play in the Tests, either off-spinners Dawson and Ball or both if the conditions so demand will win their Test caps at Mohali.Dawson, a 21-year-old Yorkshire lad, played both the warm-up games, but there was indications the selectors may go for Ball for the Tests.The 31-year-old Ball earned a place in the England squad after a decade of hard toil with Gloucestershire and is regarded as a better batsman than Dawson.Lancashire's all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is almost certain to take the field on Tuesday after receiving a late call-up from the selectors, who were worried about the ineffective bowling of Craig White.The tourists were surprised to be given a green-top for the three-dayer, but are not expected to receive the same consideration during the three back-to-back Tests.The India 'A' team will be led by Sunil Joshi and includes the promising trio of opener Vinayak Mane, all-rounder Reetinder Sodhi and wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra.

Copyright AFP 2001

England's tour of India

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