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December 19, 2008
After a day of grind and attrition for England's bowlers who managed just one scalp between them, Peter Moores made it clear that despite Steve Harmison's second axing in a year, his international future is not in jeopardy.
Harmison was replaced by Stuart Broad - the one man to pick up a wicket when he had Virender Sehwag caught behind in the second over of the day - and Moores was quick to insist that it was a horses-for-courses selection.
"It's not a personal thing when you pick an international side, you pick the best side. Stuart has got a great chance. He's a young man who is developing quickly," Moores said. "We've seen him get himself into the top 10 in the world in one-day cricket and I think he's got a great chance in Test match cricket to do that as well.
"It was quite a tough decision because we've only played one Test here. We wanted to pick a side we thought could best win it and we decided to bring Stuart in. It was nothing in particular against Steve, but Stuart is developing very quickly as a player and he obviously gives a bit of depth batting-wise," Moores said. "He was disappointed to be left out because he desperately wanted to play, but our job as selectors is to pick what we think is the best side and that's what we did."
Harmison was dropped earlier in the year during England's tour of New Zealand following a serious decline in form which, some believed, could be terminal. Yet he returned to the England team for the third Test against South Africa, under the leadership of Kevin Pietersen who also lured his fast bowler out of one-day retirement.
"It doesn't mean Steve isn't going to be England's premier strike bowler again and he's not going to play in the next Test," Moores added, "it just means that in the short series here we've picked the 11 blokes that we think are best for the job."
Though Broad's early wicket gave England's confidence a boost, thereafter Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid slammed the door shut on a placid pitch with an unbroken second-wicket stand of 173. Gambhir's tremendous form this year continued, cracking his fourth Test hundred. "I think Broad bowled really well, especially on this kind of track," he said. "He was the only wicket-taker in the entire day and I think he was the most impressive bowler today."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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