Ashes fears as Giles pulls out of one-dayers

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The Independent Online

Fears that England will be deprived of the services of Ashley Giles for a significant part of this summer's Ashes series against Australia grew yesterday when the left-arm spinner was forced to withdraw from the one-day squad.

Over the past 12 months Giles has become a valuable member of Michael Vaughan's bowling attack, and he will be sorely missed by his captain during the NatWest series, and in Monday's inaugural NatWest Twenty20 International between England and Australia at the Rose Bowl. The Warwickshire spinner will be replaced by Gareth Batty.

Giles damaged the cartilage in his right hip a month ago, while playing for his county in their Championship match against Sussex at Hove. At first the injury was not thought to be serious, and the 32 year-old had a cortisone injection in the joint hoping it would allow him to play in the Test series against Bangladesh.

However, the treatment failed to cure the condition and Giles was put on a training schedule which involved regular sessions of pilates and pool work. The progress made by Giles was assessed yesterday at Edgbaston by the medical teams of Warwickshire and England where it was decided he was not fit enough to play.

"Ashley's injury is responding to treatment," Dr Peter Gregory, the England and Wales Cricket Board's Chief Medical officer, said. "He will need to continue strengthening work. We have not yet specified a date for his return, but at this stage we anticipate that he will be available to Warwickshire within the next two weeks and we will be monitoring his progress."

Surgery has not been ruled out, but England will be reluctant to recommend this course of action because it would keep Giles out of at least the first two Test matches against Australia.

Giles will be missed during the next month, when England play seven one-day internationals against Australia, and these games will have a bearing on the fate of the Ashes. But the most important thing is that he is fit for the first Test against Australia at Lord's.

Twelve months ago few would have felt that the fitness of the slow bowler could have such an impact on England's chances of winning the Ashes. But during last summer's Test series against New Zealand and the West Indies, Giles put in the best performances of his career.

He bowled Brian Lara at Lord's with a beauty and took nine wickets in consecutive Test matches against the West Indies. Giles also chipped in with useful runs at the bottom of the order and he played a huge part in England's run of seven straight wins.

However, most importantly, he offered his captain control. When Vaughan looked to rest his fast bowlers it was Giles to whom he threw the ball.

Batty is a competitive little cricketer, but he will be targeted by the Australians. Ricky Ponting's batting line-up would have treated Giles in the same way but the experience of 45 Test matches would have placed him in a far better position to deal with the onslaught.