Mark Taylor on England's Ashes squad (23 October 1998)

23 October 1998

Mark Taylor on England's Ashes squad

By Peter Deeley

IF MARK TAYLOR'S assessment of England's likely attack for the Ashes series is correct, it suggests that Peter Such and Robert Croft will be little more than supernumaries in the Test line-up.

"Picking two off-spinners is a surprising choice," he says. "It suggests to me that England are going to try and bowl us out with the quicks.

"I'm not saying they shouldn't play either man - I always believe you need a spinner for variation, even on a green top. But I think it shows defensive thinking."

The Australian captain is equally "surprised" that Phil Tufnell is not in the party.

"It seems to me he has always caused us some trouble. He is one attacking bowler who could take wickets in Australia. As it is, it looks as if you are going to rely on pace."

Taylor, here for the final Pakistan Test which got under way yesterday, thinks England should learn from Australia's own experiences. "We took two off-spinners to the Carribean in 1991 and it didn't work out. They weren't penetrative enough."

He admits, however, that England have narrowed the gap between the two sides. "They look mentally stronger and Alec Stewart at least has a series win against South Africa under his belt. That will give him confidence. He is a fighter and it augurs well for the series that he and I get on well."

Taylor is relishing the prospect of England facing two leg-break bowlers, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, but acknowledges both still have something to prove if they are to make the first Test in Brisbane in a month's time: in Warne's case, fitness, while Taylor says of MacGill "he still has plenty to learn".

After match figures of nine for 113 in the first Pakistan Test in Rawalpindi, MacGill lost his rhythm in Peshawar and finished with three for 138. But Taylor thinks he may have learnt more from the second game than the first. "He must have thought that this leg-spinning was easy after the opening Test. Now he realises what a difficult art it is."

Taylor is still awaiting news of Warne's recovery from his shoulder troubles. "It's a pity he's probably not playing in the first Victoria game so he's not going to have much time to get match fit."

Taylor's own biggest problem is who to leave out of the batting line-up. He is confident that Matthew Elliott, after a disappointing year, will force his way back. "I think in time to come he will be the replacment for me at the top of the order."

He gives one guarantee for the series: "There will be results. That's the way I like us to play. There have been nine draws under me in 44 Tests: not a bad average."

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

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