Giles takes the stoical view of selection

Croft threatens to turn back on England but Warwickshire spinner is comfortable with tour policy
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In an age of spin doctoring the contrasting reaction of two England players to rejection is fascinating. If Ashley Giles is not selected for the fifth and final Test match against the West Indies at The Oval tomorrow he will no doubt shrug off his disappointment in typical stoical fashion.

In an age of spin doctoring the contrasting reaction of two England players to rejection is fascinating. If Ashley Giles is not selected for the fifth and final Test match against the West Indies at The Oval tomorrow he will no doubt shrug off his disappointment in typical stoical fashion.

After all, he coped when Surrey decided that he was not worth a contract eight years ago, and again after making his solitary Test appearance to date, against South Africa at Old Trafford two years ago. He has also been in 37 one-day squads but has played in just five matches. Now that is rejection.

Robert Croft is not so temperate with his response to being overlooked for the second Test running and for the forthcoming winter tour to Kenya, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Speaking to a newspaper in Wales yesterday Croft was quoted as saying: "One way or the other, whether it is my choice or theirs [the England selectors] I don't think I will be playing for England again.

"I have always had plenty of enthusiasm to play the game, be it for Glamorgan or for England, but that has been knocked out of me on the Test stage this summer. I feel like a boxer who has taken too many blows. I keep getting up off the canvas, but it becomes harder every time you are knocked down."

That prompted Duncan Fletcher, who left his job as Glamorgan coach to take up the England post at the end of last season, to say: "Robert has made that decision, hopefully he will not look back and say it was a rash one. He must hope he has not made it too early in his career."

And David Graveney, the chairman of selectors suggested that perhaps the Welsh off-spinner had been a little hasty in saying what he has done. "It is not inconceivable that he could be put on stand-by for the winter, so I would have to talk to him to determine whether that is something he would consider."

Whatever decision the selectors arrive at tomorrow Giles can be guaranteed to accept it without demur. The Warwickshire man kept it simple at yesterday's net session in South London. "I'll be ready to play if they pick me," he said. "That is all I can do."

But if he does get the nod and wins his second cap, and at The Oval, it would be a neat twist to his career. "Yeah, I suppose it would be ironic," he said, although he has already experienced that secret triumph, having played the first two of his handful of one-day internationals at The Oval.

Anyway, he does not bear a grudge. His Surrey flirtation was just that. He explained: "I was never contracted to Surrey. Eight years ago, when I was 19, they told me I was not needed. I don't blame them, and maybe if I had been taken on here things would not have worked out as they have done.

"When I went up to Warwickshire I came under the guidance of some great men, Bob Woolmer and Dermot Reeve, who both helped me." He could well help England, although there were no hints being dropped yesterday about whether they would want to play a spinner.

The West Indies, though, were suggesting that Mahendra Nagamootoo, their leg-break specialist, was very much in the frame. Reon King is out due to a stress fracture of an instep.

Franklyn Rose, who missed the Headingley Test because of ankle problems, should be fit, but batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul has flown home, the injury to his right forearm having failed to clear up.

England have not beaten the West Indies in a Test series in 31 years, and this is the sixth rubber against Caribbean sides in which Alec Stewart has been involved. He has been on the winning side in just seven out of the 23 Tests he has played in.

The significance of this last match, and on his home ground, is not lost on him. "I don't suppose I will ever play them again," said Stewart, who, at 37, will be making his 102nd Test appearance tomorrow. "After so many years it would be nice to win this time. I have had some great battles with them, now it is important we win."

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