Giles boosts England cause

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The Independent Online

England are confident Ashley Giles can overcome his Achilles problems and be an effective force on the tour to India after coming through a fitness test.

The left-arm spinner emerged successful from an extensive examination at Edgbaston yesterday alongside all-rounder Craig White (knee) and fast bowler Jimmy Ormond (knee), all under the guidance of the physiotherapist Dean Conway. The three players have been given the go-ahead to join the other 16 members of the tour party due to depart for Bombay next Tuesday.

Their successful work-outs will have come as a relief to the selectors, who have already had to find replacements for Robert Croft and Andrew Caddick following their decisions not to tour because of security fears.

Giles's inclusion will at least give them a chance of remaining competitive in the three-Test series, particularly as he has already proved his effectiveness on the subcontinent by claiming 24 wickets in the two series in Pakistan and Sri Lanka last winter.

The West Indian Steve Bucknor, Zimbabwe's Ian Robinson and Asoka de Silva of Sri Lanka will be the neutral umpires for the three-Test series. Bucknor and the international panel umpire Srinivas Venkataraghavan will officiate during the first Test at Mohali from 3-7 December. Robinson and A V Jayaprakash will be on duty for the second Test at Ahmedabad while De Silva's partner for the third Test in Bangalore is still to be named.

The BCCI has also switched the venues of the first two one-day matches. The opening one-day international on 22 January will now be in Calcutta instead of Madras, which will host the second match three days later.

The Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has been reported by International Cricket Council match officials for a suspect action for the second time in 12 months.

The most recent report was filed by match referee Denis Lindsay and umpires Rudi Koertzen and George Sharp during the recent triangular tournament in Sharjah.

Shoaib, who worked in Perth on his action earlier this year after being reported during Pakistan's one-day series in New Zealand, must now see a specialist ICC bowling advisor to analyse the concerns raised.

Shoaib can continue to play international cricket during the three-month period during which a report must be filed.

However, under the ICC process, a third report in 12 months would activate the ICC Bowling Review Group and he could face a one-year ban.