Fielding excellence a sure barometer of high England confidence

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The Independent Online

There is no surer barometer of a side's confidence and mental good health than their fielding. There were two incidents at Trent Bridge which showed that England are in the pink, even though the one-day game may not be as good an option for them at the moment as Test cricket. It was only in July that England failed to make the cut in the triangular tournament involving the West Indies and New Zealand.

There is no surer barometer of a side's confidence and mental good health than their fielding. There were two incidents at Trent Bridge which showed that England are in the pink, even though the one-day game may not be as good an option for them at the moment as Test cricket. It was only in July that England failed to make the cut in the triangular tournament involving the West Indies and New Zealand.

The early-morning juiciness in this pitch meant that it was an important toss for Michael Vaughan to win. Extravagant strokes against a ball with a lively bounce cost India dear. Even so, with four wickets down, Yuvraj Singh remained a danger for England, for he is such a handsome and punishing strokemaker.

He had made only five when his partner Mohammad Kaif played Darren Gough to a deep and rather straight midwicket. Ashley Giles gave chase from long-on and when he picked up the ball, the batsmen had completed two runs. They now went for the third after a slight hesitation and Giles's throw to the wicketkeeper, Geraint Jones, was a beauty, coming into his gloves just over the bails and beating Yuvraj by almost a yard.

It was a magnificent piece of fielding by a man who has worked extremely hard at this aspect of his game. Giles is no greyhound but he made good pace to the ball before unwinding as good a throw as you could wish to see.

It was a reflection of the confidence that Giles has gained from this summer's Test matches and also an example of the buzz that Vaughan's side now bring to their cricket.

The next wicket to fall, that of Rohan Gavaskar, was another reflection of this. He and Kaif had put on 40 when he came forward to drive Andrew Flintoff and the ball flew at a great pace, off the angled face of the bat, low to Paul Collingwood's right at backward point. The fielder had only half a split second in which to react and yet he flung himself to his right and managed to get both hands to the ball and hold on as he rolled over.

Collingwood has not been a participant in England's unprecedented Test match successes this summer - they won all seven Tests - but he has never been far away from the dressing-room. He has the reputation of being a fine team man and it is greatly to his credit that he has kept his spirits up in spite of being used mostly as an unofficial drinks waiter. His prize is a place on the tour to South Africa over the winter.

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