End for Tufnell as England turn to spin of Giles

England announced their squad for the final Test at The Oval yesterday and in so doing revealed most of their hand for the winter tours as well. As the first does not include Phil Tufnell nor will the second, a move that suggests the selectors, who instead opted for Ashley Giles, have finally called time on the Middlesex spinner's colourful international career.

England announced their squad for the final Test at The Oval yesterday and in so doing revealed most of their hand for the winter tours as well. As the first does not include Phil Tufnell nor will the second, a move that suggests the selectors, who instead opted for Ashley Giles, have finally called time on the Middlesex spinner's colourful international career.

The choice has also revealed that David Graveney and his panel have moved their views from the short to the mid-term (England cannot plan too far forward where spin is concerned), though apparently, the decision was a close one. What eventually swayed it, was Giles' improved all-round ability set against Tufnell's modest playing record abroad and his dislike of touring.

Tufnell, now 34, has played 41 Tests and was thought to be the first choice of England captain, Nasser Hussain. But Giles, whose only Test was against South Africa two summers ago, a match in which he took a forgettable 1 for 106, has improved. In county cricket this season, Giles' 52 wickets compares favourably with the 59 so far taken by Tufnell.

"There is no doubt that Ashley is an improved player since the last time he played for England," said Graveney, the chairman of selectors, yesterday. "I've been involved with him for a number of years starting with the A tour to Australia four years ago and I sat down with him at the start of this season to discuss what is required to play for England.

"In my mind the true measure of a spinner is to get people out in the second innings of the match. If you look at Ashley's stats this year that is what he has done. You also need to be able to bat, especially in our team, and Ashley has made improvements there as well."

One immediate question mark over the selection is that Giles has had a troublesome Achilles' tendon, although there was little sign of that yesterday as he made the highest score for Warwickshire in the NatWest trophy final.

On tour, Giles will be joined by another spinner for the Pakistan leg. It is a role that could go to Robert Croft, with Chris Schofield joining them for the Sri Lanka leg in late January.

With all those picked for The Oval certain to go to Pakistan, the four remaining places will be announced today. Andrew Flintoff, back bowling again for Lancashire, could be one of them. Chris Read's youth may get him the nod over Kent's Paul Nixon for the reserve wicketkeeper's position, though John Crawley (part-time keeper but useful player of spin) could be an unexpected choice.

That leaves one place open for another pace bowler, a choice, given that Matthew Hoggard was not included in the squad for The Oval, that will probably be between him and Durham's Steve Harmison with Alex Tudor getting an honourable mention.

Giles' inclusion for the final Test squad, does not mean he will play. The Oval may have sustained a pair of spinners all season for Surrey, but it will have to offer turn early in the game (only one of the Tests has so far gone into a fourth day) for England to change the team that steam-rollered Jimmy Adams' side at Headingley.

The Test, which if won or drawn by England, would secure a series win against the West Indies for the first time in 31 years, must be the immediate priority. But while the players should be aware of the dangers of taking their eye off the prize, Graveney felt announcing the touring party before the Test might ease anxiety levels.

"By naming the squads early," explained Graveney, "the players know they are in the tour party and will be able to totally focus on facing the West Indies. In the past, we have often gone to The Oval in a desperate state. This time we are in a winning position and no one will be playing for their place. Hopefully that will enable them to relax and perform to their best. We are under no illusions and know we will have to continue playing as well as we have done recently to win the match."

ENGLAND TEST SQUAD

N Hussain (capt) M A Atherton M E Trescothick G P Thorpe A J Stewart (wkt) M P Vaughan G A Hick C White D G Cork A R Caddick D Gough A F Giles

(For possible winter tour party add: A Flintoff, C M W Read, M J Hoggard, R D B Croft).

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