Fletcher praises Giles for great show
England coach Duncan Fletcher praised Ashley Giles after the left-arm spinner produced his best bowling figures in the Test against Sri Lanka.india Updated: Dec 06, 2003 13:50 IST
England coach Duncan Fletcher praised Ashley Giles after the left-arm spinner produced his best ever bowling figures in the first Test against Sri Lanka on Friday.
Giles claimed four second-innings wickets as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 226, completing a match analysis of eight for 132.
"Ashley bowled exceptionally well," Fletcher told reporters. Not only did he get four wickets which was great but they struggled to score off him.
"We have said before that if our spinners are given decent spinning wickets and they get a lot of overs under their belt, they are good spinners."
Giles's success followed a barren spell, in which he took nine wickets in his last eight Tests, that had left him under pressure for his place in the side.
"His performance showed the character of the man after all the criticism," Fletcher added.
The 30-year-old spinner's previous best was seven for 132 against Pakistan in Karachi in 2000-01, and his success contrasted sharply with the ineffectiveness of seamers Matthew Hoggard and Richard Johnson, who took only one wicket each.
Fletcher admitted that England might have benefited from an extra spinner.
"There was a strong case for three spinners," he said. "When we went into the second innings we were talking about whether we needed three spinners.
Fletcher was hoping England's inexperienced lower middle order batsmen would fare better against Muttiah Muralitharan in the second innings.
"When you talk about a strategy without facing him it is very hard, but the guys can now sit down and think about strategy more clearly," he said.
"It's going to be a big battle to tomorrow, but since losing a crucial toss the guys have never given up, they have kept going in the heat and the body language has been good."
Mahela Jayawardene, the hosts' top scorer with a patient unbeaten 86, was delighted with his first major contribution in 18 months.
"I was a bit under pressure and the team was struggling so it was very satisfying," he said.
"It was very difficult out there as Ashley bowled very well, putting it in the right areas and making it very difficult to score."
Jayawardene was confident of a Sri Lanka victory, with England chasing 323 on the final day.
"If we get a couple of early wickets and Murali starts his magic then we should be in business," he said.