Thatscricket - News - England wait on Jones for West Indies

Published: Thursday, January 8, 2004, 2:12 [IST]
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London:England kept a place open for fast bowler Simon Jones when they named their squad for their four-Test tour of the West Indies in London.

Jones, 25, has not played first-class cricket for 14 months after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury during the first Ashes Test in Brisbane.

But instead of naming Jones outright in the squad the selectors, who delayed their announcement by 24 hours for further consultation on the health of several bowlers, want the Glamorgan bowler to prove his fitness on the upcoming short 'A' tour of Malaysia and India before including him in the Test squad.

"The reports we have had from the National Academy indicate that Simon Jones is making good progress in his recovery from a knee injury," England's chairman of selectors David Graveney said on Wednesday.

"As Simon has been out of First Class cricket for more than a year, we will be closely monitoring his form and fitness on the 'A' team's tour of India with a view to adding him to the Test squad in the Caribbean."

The 'A' team squad for the tour to Malaysia and India, departs on January 26 with the itinerary and players due to be named shortly.

There were also fitness worries over Durham fast bowler Stephen Harmison, who missed the recent 1-0 series defeat in Sri Lanka with a side strain.

But Somerset quick Richard Johnson, whose career has been blighted by a succession of injuries, misses out because of upcoming surgery on his right knee.

"Stephen Harmison has recovered from the back injury which ruled him out of the Sri- Lanka Test Series and we expect that there will be keen competition for places in the pace bowling department," Graveney insisted.

Also vying for a new ball spot is Lancashire quick James Anderson who missed the first half of England's pre-Christmas Test trip to the subcontinent in Bangladesh with knee trouble

There had been speculation that experienced paceman Andrew Caddick, out of action since a back injury in July, would be included but Graveney said the New-Zealand born quick had yet to regain full fitness after surgery.

England are desperate to avoid a repeat of the injury problems that blighted their 2002-03 tour of Australia where they took Darren Gough in the hope the fast bowler's knee problem would clear up during the trip only for the Yorkshire quick to return without bowling a ball in anger.

And they are looking to the likes of Anderson and Harmison to ease the bowling burden on Andrew Flintoff, whose transformation from strike to stock bowler has seen the Lancashire all-rounder endure repeated groin injury problems.

England, who have stood by the same batting line-up they selected for the first half of the winter, included Graham Thorpe despite his availability being called into question following a police investigation into his part in an incident at his ex-wife's house on December 26.

The Surrey left-hander has previously come home early from England tours for personal reasons and after saying he was available to go to Australia in 2002-03 Thorpe changed his mind and withdrew before the squad left.

After the Test series, England play seven One-day Internationals.

For the limited overs matches they have named a 13-man squad with Somerset left-arm spinner Ian Blackwell, Sussex seamer James Kirtley and batsmen Anthony McGrath (Yorkshire) and Andrew Strauss (Middlesex), the only players not in the Test party included.

"We do intend to add two extra seam bowlers to the One-day Squad once we have had an opportunity to assess the performances of the Test Squad in the West Indies," Graveney added.

England have not won a Test series in the West Indies since 1968 when Jones's father Jeff, a Glamorgan left-arm pace bowler, was in the team.

The squad leaves England on February 25 with the first Test in Jamaica starting on March 11.

ECB announces its team for West Indies tour

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