November 26, 2001

Duncan Fletcher: Giles has a 50-50 chance of playing in Jaipur

The three-day match at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium has given the Indian and English selectors a lot to think about. For the five Indian selectors who were in Hyderabad throughout the recently concluded three-dayer, it must have been heartening to see Murali Kartik, Sarandeep Singh, Sridharan Sriram and Sanjay Bangar press their claims for a place in the national squad. In contrast the English think tank will be a worried lot; except for Mark Ramprakash and Martyn Ball, no one from the visiting side did anything of note.

England coach Duncan Fletcher had to watch his batsmen fail in the second innings against the Board President's XI in Hyderabad on Saturday. The most worrying aspect for the coach would be the fact that of the nine English wickets that fell in the second innings, seven went to medium-pacers. A clear lack of application could be attributed to the batting collapse.

Talking to the media after the game, Fletcher said, "It has undoubtedly been a learning experience. But how much the players have acquired will be visible only after they play against India 'A'."

The English coach was more critical of his bowlers, "Our bowlers did not bowl that well. They should be more disciplined on tracks like this and bowl a consistent line and length as Sanjay Bangar did today. We have a very inexperienced attack and the boys are learning."

The failure of Michael Vaughan as an opener in the game has meanwhile meant that Fletcher has no other options but to rely on the specialist openers he has in the side. "Our normal opening pair is Butcher and Trescothick. Butcher has struggled with the lack of pace on the wicket and hopefully will get used to that in the next game. He has shown that he is a quality opener."

Martyn Ball, on his first tour with the English side, bowled well on Saturday to claim three wickets. He has impressed the most important man, Duncan Fletcher, who said, "He has bowled well in this match and he is in the learning process, so is Richard Dawson. We are going to have a look at the them in the Jaipur match."

Ashley Giles is reputed to be the best spinner in his country. Fletcher reckons that Giles' chances of playing the next match are 50-50, "I don't want to be too positive, he has progressed much better than we expected to. At this stage there is a consideration that he might play (in Jaipur), but we are not going to say whether he will or he will not."