Cricket: Three spinners to add twist

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The Independent Online
England A are planning to enter the second unofficial Test in Galle today with three spinners in an attempt to exploit Sri Lanka's dusty and dry pitches.

The tourists had difficulty dislodging the Sri Lankan batsmen in the drawn first Test in Kurunegala but have since been strengthened by the arrival of Jonathan Powell and Owais Shah following England World Youth Cup success in South Africa.

Despite nearly two days of travelling - the pair returned to London with the rest of the World Cup squad before flying on to Colombo on Wednesday - England believe the Essex off-spinner Powell will be a valuable addition to their bowling options alongside the left-armers Ashley Giles and Dean Cosker.

Powell played only one first-class match for his county prior to his surprising selection for the A tour and has been named in a 12-man squad as England delay finalising their line-up until they inspect the pitch.

Shah has been overlooked, along with James Ormond, Chris Read and Andrew Flintoff, but he is sure to play in next week's finale to the three-match series in Moratuwa in line with England's policy to give every squad member at least one Test and a one-day international before the end of the tour.

Although Powell has just one Championship appearance and a handful of Sunday League games to his credit, he is far from inexperienced, having toured with the under-19s in Pakistan.

"The under-19s have been going quite a few years now and some of us have been lucky enough to go on a few tours and pick up experience," he said. "If we progress to Test level we will have already played against a lot of players of our age group for other countries, which should be a big help to us."

The Warwickshire all-rounder Dougie Brown is the most likely to miss out today, should the Matara wicket prove to be similar to Kurunegala's slow turner. If so then Cosker will keep his place in the side alongside both Powell and Giles to leave Ben Hollioake, Paul Hutchison and Mark Ealham as England's seam options.

Middlesex's David Nash takes over the wicketkeeping gloves from Read after sitting out the first Test and Northamptonshire batsman David Sales also returns to replace Flintoff.

ENGLAND A (Second unofficial Test, v Sri Lanka, Galle, today): N V Knight (capt), S P James, D L Maddy, D J Sales, B C Hollioake, A F Giles, J C Powell, D C Nash (wkt), D A Cosker or D R Brown, M A Ealham, P M Hutchison.