Angus Fraser: Concern over Giles leaves selectors in a spin

England's dithering in naming a final spinner for the three-Test tour of India can only be the result of doubts over the fitness of Ashley Giles.

When David Graveney, England's chairman of selectors, announced the Test and one-day squads for India yesterday morning he suggested there was no reason for his committee to make "a hasty decision" and that the delay would give it more time to study Ian Blackwell, Alex Loudon and Monty Panesar.

Duncan Fletcher's involvement with the England team will have prevented him from seeing much of Panesar and the coach - currently at home in Cape Town - would probably like to watch him at first hand before making a decision. But exactly what fresh information he expects from any of the contenders at Loughborough University in January is difficult to comprehend.

Concerns over the fitness of Giles are understandable, and the last time England toured with injured players - to Australia in 2002-03 - it proved disastrous. Giles returned home early from England's pre-Christmas tour of Pakistan and immediately had an arthroscopic operation on his right hip. It was hoped the 10-week break would give him time to recover but the team are now less than a month away from departing for India and their premier spinner has only just started jogging.

Once Giles regains confidence in his hip progress should quicken up and the 32-year-old intends to have his first bowl since 28 November next week. The selectors will keenly await a report on the session and will announce the 16th tourist after that.

The chances of Giles being available for selection in the first Test on 1 March will dictate which type of spinner England opt for. If Giles has no chance of playing in Nagpur the selectors will pick either Blackwell or Panesar - a left-arm spinner who turns the ball away from right-handed batsmen.

Loudon will enter the equation only if Giles is fit because England may want the back-up spinner to be a right-armer. Realistically, it has to be a left-armer, because bowlers who turn the ball away from the bat are more likely match-winners.

The spinner England pick will find pitches that help him, but taking wickets will still be a huge challenge. Indian batsmen are wonderful players of spin, as Sri Lanka found out in a three-Test series before Christmas. India backed their batsmen to get the better of Muttiah Muralitharan - the second highest wicket-taker in Test cricket - and they did. India won 2-0.

England need Giles to be fit because he is the only spinner Michael Vaughan can rely on. Shaun Udal has taken almost 700 first-class wickets but his three Test scalps in Pakistan cost 92 runs apiece. Giles fared little better but 51 of his 140 Test wickets have been taken on the subcontinent.

The one consolation is that turning pitches tend to offer assistance for the faster bowlers. If the seam of a cricket ball bowled by a spinner grips the surface and turns, then it is going to do the same for a seamer. This should give Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison something to work with. The rough, dry nature of the pitches will scuff the ball up and this, in turn, should allow Simon Jones to reverse-swing the old ball.

If England are to compete with India they will need their batsmen to post totals in excess of 450. To do this they will have to deal with the twin spin threat of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. England have the line-up to do this but they will need to show more discipline than in Pakistan.

Kevin Pietersen is the batsman most in need of a good tour. Pietersen has passed 50 in five of his 16 Test innings and averages 45 in this form of the game, but the manner in which he was dismissed on a couple of occasions in Pakistan, along with ill-judged comments about Darren Gough being brought back into the one-day side, has left him short of Brownie points.

England are yet to find out if Flintoff will miss part of the tour. Flintoff's wife, Rachael, is due to give birth during the third Test and the all-rounder wants to be present. The couple's first child, Holly, was born a month early and this has made it hard to plan.

Should Rachael go into labour during the middle of a match it is hard to imagine Flintoff leaving the game. But if the dates turn out to be correct he will miss the Mumbai Test.

Pietersen's eulogy of Gough failed to win him a place in England's one-day squad and the fast bowler's international career now appears to have ended. England will use the seven matches to give Liam Plunkett and James Anderson experience before the World Cup and Gough can now look to capitalise on his success in Strictly Come Dancing and become a fully fledged celebrity.

Gough, unsurprisingly, was upset at being overlooked. "I'm disappointed because I think I am one of the best bowlers at the end of a one-day match," he said.

"They have to find someone to bowl at the death with Andrew Flintoff because at the moment that's where they're losing games. You can't buy one of them at a local superstore - it takes years and years."

Vikram Solanki is unfortunate to have been omitted from the one-day squad. His place has been given to Ian Bell in an attempt to make the one-day side as close as possible to the Test team. This will prove successful only if the squad have some energy left after what will be a challenging Test series.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee