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The Wednesday Interview with Phil Tufnell on his memories of facing Australia
August 2, 2005
When Australia toured England in 2001 Phil Tufnell made his final Test appearance at The Oval, ending a career which spanned 42 matches, including 12 against the Old Enemy. He talks to Cricinfo about his Ashes memories and has some advice for Ashley Giles, England's new version of the under-fire spinner.
What was your most memorable moment when facing Australia?
Making my debut in Melbourne on the 1990-91 tour was obviously very special, a Boxing Day Test in front of a packed ground was something you will always remember, but unfortunately we lost the game. The Oval in 1997, when England won by 19 runs, [and where Tufnell took 11 for 93 in the match] was a great Test match and I was delighted to play a part in beating Australia in the manner we did.
You had been in every squad that summer but didn't play until The Oval, how did you feel about that?
It was a little bit frustrating to have sat out the whole of the series up till then, but I got my chance at The Oval and things went my way. The important thing was I bowled well when I got my chance and it was a nice pitch to bowl spin on.
As England went out to defend such a small target did you really believe it was possible?
You always have to go out in a positive frame of mind, but 124 wasn't a lot. You always have to believe you can turn the match around and we did that day. The crowd were brilliant, they got right behind us and cheered every ball we bowled. They are going to play a vital part this summer too.
When you were recalled for The Oval Test in 2001 it wasn't quite as successful.
We lost the toss on another hot day in London, they batted on a good track and we had to watch them rack up 600 for not many. It wasn't the best time, or the best way to go out of Test cricket, but it was just one of things really. Overall from 1990, when I made my debut, to 2001, when I played at The Oval, I had some great times playing against the Australians.
What is the major difference between playing Australia and the other Test nations?
The Aussies have changed the way the game is played, certainly since I retired. They take the game to the opposition and try to dominate from the very start. They score at four an over and that is what England have got to try and do.
Where did you stand on the Kevin Pietersen v Graham Thorpe debate?
They made a very big call by dropping Thorpe and it would have been a very tough decision. But I think it was more of an intent thing, England wanted someone to be able to take the Australians on. I know Thorpey, he would have been disappointed, but the selectors had to make the call.
Ashley Giles has come under some criticism after his performance at Lord's. Can he still have a role in this series?
England's strength is with their seam attack - Harmison, Hoggard, Jones and Flintoff - but Giles can be an important part of the bowling line-up. He has proved very effective for England over the last couple of years. Later on in the summer he may also have an attacking role to play when the pitches start to turn a bit. He can't worry about what Shane Warne is doing, he just has to go out there and do his job.
What advice can one left-arm spinner give to another about being the opposing number to Warne?
It can be a tough job, but that is where the people around Giles will be very important. The backroom staff will be telling him just to concentrate on what he does and not worry about what else goes on.
Phil Tufnell is an ambassador for npower business. To win 'Cricket in Your Back Yard' with England players, check www.npower.com/cricket or call 0800 316 0804'. He was talking to Andrew McGlashan.
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