Gidman - 'We have what it takes to beat India A'
Alex Gidman, 23, was a surprise choice to lead England A on their tour of Malaysia and India this winter. However, after impressive batting displays with Gloucestershire, Gidman now finds himself captaining England's bright young hopefuls in three one-day games against India A, and in the Duleep Trophy. Andrew Miller caught up with him before he left:
Congratulations - it must have been a busy few days since you learned of your appointment?
It's been very busy, but very enjoyable - there's been a lot of stuff that I'm not used to, and much of it has involved learning on the job. I can't claim I've got a huge amount of captaincy experience, other than the usual school stuff, and one or two matches for the Board XI and Gloucestershire 2nds. But it's something I've always aspired to, and as soon as I was offered the job, I immediately jumped at it.
Do you know what type of captain you'll be yet?
I'm the type of guy who'll look to lead from the front and get stuck in, but from the tactical point of view I won't really know what to expect until we get out to India. There are bound to be times in the subcontinent when you've got to hold back and play a patient game. But I'm a pretty calm and laid-back character, so I'm sure I'll play it by ear and work it all out.
Alex Gidman: jumped at the chance to captain England A
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It's quite early in your career for such responsibility
Well, I've been at Gloucestershire for two years now - I played for about three-quarters of the season in 2002, and all throughout last summer, so I've got a bit of experience to fall back on: 18 first-class games, and several one-day matches. But I've been very lucky to play for a team that's been so successful, because it's given me the chance to get used to the big stage. My highlight so far has got to be last summer's victory in the C&G final. To be able to play in front of a full house at Lord's at that stage of my career was an amazing experience, and one that will stand me in good stead in the coming weeks. The Twenty20 finals day at Trent Bridge was good fun as well. It's a shame we couldn't win that trophy, but life goes on, I guess.
Is a full house at Lord's going to prepare you for Indian crowds?
Apparently not! Well, that's what the experienced guys have been telling us at any rate - the crowds in India are always packed and really noisy and supportive, and have to be seen to be believed. It's bound to be an atmosphere that few of us have ever experienced, and I don't suppose a sunny afternoon at Lord's has much in common!
Have you had any advice from England captains about playing in the subcontinent?
Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan haven't been around to talk to us, but we've had plenty of help from other people. Personally, I've been getting advice from my Gloucestershire team-mates, Jack Russell and Jonty Rhodes, who was our overseas player last season and knows all about winning in India. Angus Fraser has popped in as well to give us a few bits and pieces. And then of course there's Rod [Marsh], who has been hugely supportive, and the psychologist, Steve Bull, who has overseen our mental preparation.
Is the mental aspect more important than the physical?
Not at all. Our physical preparations have been immense, and we have been working very, very hard to get ready for the trip. The facilities here at Loughborough are fantastic - with a huge indoor playing area, conditioning rooms, ice baths, jacuzzis and so on - and it's given us everything we could possibly need. As a result we are all in the best shape we have ever been in, and everyone is peaking just at the right time.
Gidman celebrates hitting the winning runs in the 2003 C&G Trophy
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How have you prepared for facing the Indian spinners?
There are two lanes of specialist spinning wickets at the academy, which certainly do a lot more than county tracks. We've also been preparing on mats, which turn and a bounce a great deal, as well as with the usual bowling machines. We expect to be presented with a whole lot of spin, and it is up to us to get to grips with the challenge.
What are your realistic goals for the tour?
We are going over to India with absolutely no fear, and we fully back ourselves to be successful. I honestly believe we have what it takes to beat India A in the one-day series, whether it be 3-0 or a close-fought 2-1. As for the first-class tournament, we really don't know what to expect, or what type of teams they'll be turning out against us, so we'll have to take every four-day game as it comes.
Who are the trump cards?
Simon Jones is obviously our main man in the attack. He is in superb form and all credit to him. He has worked so hard to get back to fitness after that horrendous injury, and after all the tough times he's been through he fully deserves a chance to prove himself again, and get onto that Caribbean tour. He's been the one under the spotlight, but Sajid Mahmood has been bowling really quickly in the nets, Kevin Pietersen has been in great touch with the bat, while I personally reckon that Yorkshire's Michael Lumb is one to keep an eye on.
Do you see yourself being called up to the senior squad for the West Indies series?
The Caribbean trip is no doubt at the back of everyone's minds, and all the lads will be hoping to press their claims for a call-up should the opportunity arise. But that's out of our control. All we know is that we have been given a fantastic opportunity in the coming weeks, and it's up to us to make the most of it.