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Full support for under-fire keeper Foster; INDIA TOUR.


JAMES FOSTER has been offered the full support of the England tour management following his torrid Test debut in Mohali.

The 21-year-old wicket-keeper, whose career path mirrors that of Nasser Hussain - they attended the same east London school, Durham University and were coached by Nasser's father Joe ahead of Essex duty - missed a number of chances behind the stumps.

Foster was also dismissed cheaply in each innings trying to sweep Harbhajan Singh as the tourists lost by 10 wickets.

England captain Hussain has continually backed his county colleague and coach Duncan Fletcher insists even cricket's greats have struggled on the Test stage initially.

Foster also made a wobbly start to his international career in the recent one-day series in Zimbabwe, dropping a straightforward skier, but recovered in the latter half of the five matches.

"Obviously when some chances go down you are concerned but I have seen it happen to other young guys, " said Fletcher.

"People forget what Mark Boucher was like in his first few games. How well did Rod Marsh keep early on?"

Marsh's fellow Australian Ian Healy holds the world record dismissals for a gloveman in a Test career but doubts were initially raised as he was rushed through to the top with limited first-class experience.

Foster, who was chosen as the No 1 keeper over fellow tourist Warren Hegg when Alec Stewart made it clear he was not prepared to travel to India, has experienced a similar fasttracking.

"Every time a young player comes in he gets compared to the old, experienced guy going out. People don't realise what the great players were like when they started out.

"Did he (Foster) keep badly before this game? I thought he kept very well in the warm-up games.

"In Zimbabwe, those last couple of games and those catches he took were great, he didn't drop anything."

Fletcher added, "Our fielding overall was the one area I found strange in Mohali. We dropped some simple catches. But it's about confidence and the concentration levels have got to be up all the time."

Meanwhile, with the spinning tops of Ahmedabad and Bangalore to follow, Ashley Giles - who took an England record 17 wickets in Pakistan 12 months ago - is struggling to be fit for Tuesday's second Test.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 8, 2001
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