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England call-up Croft for Test series

England have added off-spinner Robert Croft to its spin attack for the Test series against Sri Lanka, which may be crucial on the island's turning pitches.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2003 17:06 IST

England on Saturday added off-spinner Robert Croft to its spin attack for the three-match Test series against Sri Lanka, which may be crucial on the tropical island's turning pitches.

Croft, 33, toured Sri Lanka in 2001 when England won the series 2-1, taking nine wickets in the three Tests. His four wickets in the last Test in Colombo helped England secure victory. But Croft has not played a Test match since opting out of the 2001 tour to India.

Croft's inclusion in the team is a big relief for England captain Michael Vaughan, who has expressed concern about leading an inexperienced side to Sri Lanka.

"Sri Lanka are a very good and experienced team playing on their home soil. We are relatively young... been around together for eight months now," Vaughan told reporters.

"Not many of our players have played too many games and I think (Sri Lanka's Sanath) Jayasuriya is about to play his 300th game," Vaughan said.

Sri Lankan Test captain Hashan Tillakaratne said Sri Lanka's pitches have traditionally "helped the spinners and I believe it could help our spinners."

"Still we have no idea how the pitch would play," Tillakaratne said.

England began its campaign with a warm-up limited-overs match against Sri Lanka Cricket President's XI on Saturday. The first one-day international will be played at Dambulla in central Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

The second and third one-day matches will be played at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Nov. 21 and Nov. 23.

The Test series will begin in Galle on Dec. 2. Sri Lanka's one-day skipper Marvan Atapattu said his team's preparations for the tournament went well, despite the players' long break since their West Indies tour in June.

Atapattu said the England team, which whitewashed Bangladesh in a recent two-Test, three one-day match series, will not be complacent when facing the Sri Lankans.

"At this level everyone realizes the strengths and weaknesses of their respective teams. I don't think they'll get carried away," he said.

First Published: Nov 15, 2003 15:05 IST