'Pick yourselves up after the putdowns'
England have the spirit to bounce back, says Graveney in rallying call
Sunday 31 July 2005
"Be assured this is a team of character," he said. "They have shown it in the past two years, they can bounce back. The biggest worry for us would have been if we had created no chances in the First Test at all.
"That would have been a serious problem, but it wasn't the case. They've got to clear their heads, realise why they were selected and trust their ability. Forget what people are writing and saying about you."
He spoke similarly of the captain, Michael Vaughan. "It's a huge job, being captain of England. He's batting like a bloke with a lot of things in his head. He needs somehow to clear it. Everybody has got to do that. Playing against this lot is another level up. People think they're arrogant but they're just very confident people."
Graveney's words seemed to indicate that the selectors were not for turning from the team who were eventually swept aside by 239 runs at Lord's, and were obviously designed to allay fears that the campaign was not forlorn. At least not yet. He intends to visit Edgbaston, where the Second npower Test begins on Thursday, "to put an arm round the players' shoulders".
"I will tell them why they were selected in the first place and remind them of the spirit which has taken them this far. That is our greatest strength, and if we can play to our ability in Birmingham, the crowd will really get behind us."
Graveney's panel has been under enormous pressure from pundits, many of them former players, to make changes. Paul Collingwood, the Durham batsman, who completed his fourth hundred of the summer on Friday, has suddenly been pushed to the forefront of the fringe candidates.
The panel will certainly have looked at Collingwood's claims closely, but should have decided that his inclusion would be a defensive move that showed they got it wrong in the first place.
Graveney will try to ensure that the players regain the self-belief which drained from them as the match at Lord's progressed and was patently absent in their public pronouncements last week.
"We've all got to be positive and back our belief as selectors, but most importantly as players," he said. "There are proper reasons for England being able to challenge because of the way we have played. We have earned the right to have that expectation. If we play to our ability we can win. There are certain areas where they can accelerate away from us, but we came back after defeat in Cape Town in the winter. It's not a dream, it's something we can do and have done."
England cannot now think beyond Edgbaston, where the least they can afford is a draw. But the Third Test at Old Trafford starts two days later.
The Manchester pitch is taking spin hugely this summer, and Shane Warne's fingers and England's nerves could already be twitching.
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