The England & Wales Cricket Board ruled Ashley Giles out of next week’s tour of India. Giles, 32, was forced to head home early from England’s pre-Christmas tour to Pakistan to undergo treatment on a long-standing hip injury, but has failed to recuperate in time. His place will now go to the Somerset allrounder, Ian Blackwell.
The news is a big blow to England’s hopes of pulling off a series win in India, a country where they have not won a Test series since 1984-85. But David Graveney, England’s chairman of selectors, remains optimistic that Giles, who took five wickets at Ahmedabad on England’s last tour in 2001-02, could yet join the squad at a later date.
“We are disappointed to lose a player of Ashley’s calibre but we wish him well with his recovery and remain hopeful that he will be able to play some part in the tour,” said Graveney. “Ian Blackwell is a talented player who performed well in the one-day series in Pakistan and this is a terrific opportunity for him to show that he can fulfil his potential against top-class opposition.”
Blackwell, whose naggingly accurate spin bowling reaped its rewards with three key wickets in the final one-day international at Rawalpindi before Christmas, is a hard-hitting lower-middle-order batsman as well, and as such is more of a like-for-like replacement than the Northamptonshire spinner, Monty Panesar, who was drafted into the squad at the end of last month. Should the conditions favour two spinners, it is highly likely that he could make his Test debut at Nagpur in three weeks’ time, as a sidekick for Shaun Udal.
Explaining the decision to replace Giles, the ECB’s chief medical officer, Dr Peter Gregory, said: “Ashley has been working extremely hard on his recovery programme and is making steady progress but he has not yet reached the stage where he is able to resume bowling again. The advice we received from Ashley’s specialist is that it will take time to derive full benefit from the surgery he underwent in December and the medical team is working closely with Ashley to achieve this end.
“The operation Ashley required was more extensive than we originally anticipated which is why we are taking his rehabilitation steadily. At this stage, we cannot put a time frame on when Ashley might be able to join the England team. He will continue with his rehabilitation in the UK under the supervision of the Warwickshire medical team and a further assessment of his injury will be made in due course.”
Blackwell had been preparing for a trip to the Caribbean with the England A squad, but Graveney added that no replacement would be called upon for that trip.More on:Ashley Giles, England in India 2006, Ian Blackwell, monty panesar
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