England reveals team positions early - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England reveals team positions early

By Adam Cooper 12/11/2006 08:20:34 PM Comments (0)

England has played several of its cards well before the Ashes opener against Australia by confirming it will play wicketkeeper Geraint Jones and drop fast bowler Sajid Mahmood.

Jones will replace incumbent Test keeper Chris Read because of his better batting, while Mahmood will be axed despite some impressive performances over the English summer.

Mahmood did not bowl against NSW on day one of the three-day match at the SCG on Sunday, which allowed the tourists to give extra overs to paceman James Anderson and spinners Ashley Giles and Monty Panesar, who are competing for two spots at the Gabba.

The trio took four of the five NSW wickets to fall, however the Blues finished on a commanding 5-325.

England is poised to make up to four changes to the team which in August won the fourth Test against Pakistan on forfeit if it selects four quicks (including captain Andrew Flintoff) and prefers Giles' better batting over Panesar.

Coach Duncan Fletcher confirmed Jones would replace his rival - for the second time on an overseas tour - and play in Brisbane, where he grew up.

"At this stage we are convinced that Jones will be a better prospect for batting at No.7," Fletcher said.

"We had a good meeting yesterday - Fred (Flintoff) and myself - and we just decided we're going to go with Jones at this stage.

"We'll go through with him for the Test match.

"We discussed it before the Canberra game (where England was thrashed by the Prime Minister's XI).

"We just realised how rusty the guys were, having only had one decent practice, and we realised we'd have to give a lot of the guys as much cricket as possible before we go into the first Test."

England is yet to decide between playing four quicks and a spinner or three and two, but Fletcher said Mahmood was out of the running after he was smashed for 1-97 in Canberra because of the concerns over his consistency.

Mahmood could have bowled on Sunday because he was among the 14 players named for the practice match, but Fletcher decided it was more worthwhile giving overs to the others.

"We wanted to get 15 overs out of each bowler that we were looking at for the Test match," he said.

"And if (Mahmood) had played it reduces it down to 10 and 10's not good enough to get them match-fit for the Test match.

"At this stage Jimmy Anderson has got the front running."

Read averages only 20 with the bat in Tests compared to Jones' 26, however the latter did lose his spot during the series against Pakistan after a string of low scores.

Jones also replaced Read during the 2004 tour of the Caribbean, when Fletcher decided his batting was better for the team.

England still has to decide between Giles and Panesar, and Fletcher said it was possible both would play in the Tests.

Giles took 2-46 on Sunday to continue his comeback from hip surgery and is a better batsman, which will be pivotal to England's thinking given it has to play four bowlers plus Flintoff because of the doubts over the captain's fitness after recent ankle surgery.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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