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CRICKET: ASHLEY GILES'S COLUMN: England unlucky with injury count.

Byline: ASHLEY GILES

INJURIES are part and parcel of the game, but we can count ourselves very unlucky to be going into the first Test against India tomorrow missing four players.

The loss of Marcus Trescothick is obviously a huge blow because, since forcing his way on to the international scene a couple of years ago, he has established himself as a key member of the side.

He has probably been our best player over the past year and, I think, is now good enough to play in any team in the world. He's got leadership potential as well and has become very important to England on and off the field. There is no point in denying that we will miss a batsman of his class.

I didn't see the incident that left him with a broken thumb - I took advantage of the gap in fixtures to spend a few days in Norway with my wife's family - but I gather it was a freak injury caused when he tried to stop one from Graeme Hick at extra-cover.

We all know how hard Hicky hits the ball but you stop those kind of shots all the time in games and in practice. This one obviously caught him in the wrong place and, by all accounts, he is unlikely to play again this summer.

It just goes to show that you never know what's round the corner - you can be on top of the world and then something like that puts you on the sidelines.

There's never a good time to pick up an injury but this has obviously come at a particularly bad time for England. We've just got to hope he gets fit as soon as possible for the heavy schedule that starts this winter.

At least we have got good batting cover, but losing Andy Caddick, Darren Gough and Alex Tudor all at the same time is very cruel.

Andy and Darren have established themselves as the backbone of the attack for the last few years while Alex showed what he can do in the last Test against Sri Lanka. So to lose two world-class performers and then one of your main back-up bowlers is a major setback.

Goughie has been carrying his knee injury for some time and he's been facing that dilemma about whether to get back into action or rest it a bit more.

Cricketers aren't renowned for their patience and, having suffered a similar situation with my Achilles last year, I know exactly how he feels.

Your instinct is always to start playing again as soon as possible, but there is always that risk that you could set yourself back a couple of months if you rush it.

You might feel fine and the doctors might give you the all-clear, but you never really know until you get out there in the middle.

Even then you expect to feel a little niggle because of scar tissue or whatever, but Goughie is obviously in real pain now and has been left with no option but to stand down.

His disappointment, however, means that Simon Jones is now almost certain to make his debut at Lord's tomorrow and that is an exciting prospect.

Although I have played against Simon I have never faced him in a match but he is obviously very quick - probably the fastest current English bowler, I would think.

Raw pace is a tremendous asset - something you've either got or you haven't. Learning how to harness it is another matter, but this is a perfect opportunity to show what he can do against some of the best batsmen in the world.

Although I never like to take anything for granted I imagine that, all else being equal, I will be in the side tomorrow and no doubt the media will be closely examining how I bowl against Sachin Tendulkar.

They decided my tactics against him in India last winter were 'controversial' and some people went as far as to suggest that they were against the spirit of the game if not downright unsporting.

But I can assure you that I will be more than happy to bowl in exactly the same way if we decide that's what the game-plan requires this time around.

I don't see it as a totally defensive option. It's simply a question of restricting him, denying him the opportunity to play his natural game, and hope that he becomes frustrated and can be tempted into doing something rash.

It's not rocket science. When you are facing somebody as good as him, especially on a flat wicket, you don't play to his strengths.

You have to try to think up something that will slow him down and I'm certainly not going to apologise for that.

Having missed out to India in the one-day series I suppose that they go into the Test matches on a high, but the final at Lord's was so tight that I don't think it will have any great psychological effect either way.

We will look back to those matches in India when we gave a very good account of ourselves - although we lost the series 1-0, we certainly had the better of the last two Tests.

We aren't kidding ourselves - they have some magnificent batsmen and we are missing our regular pace spearhead.

But on our own turf we back ourselves against anybody and we are all determined to start as we mean to go on tomorrow.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Comment:CRICKET: ASHLEY GILES'S COLUMN: England unlucky with injury count.(Sport)
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 24, 2002
Words:911
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