Wed, Dec 13, 2006 - Page 18 News List

England selectors face difficult task ahead of third Test

AFP , PERTH, AUSTRALIA

The ASHES 2006/2007With their Ashes defense hanging by a thread, England selectors face some tough decisions for the third Test against Australia, starting tomorrow at the WACA.

Down 2-0 and on the verge of Ashes failure, there is no margin for error for England and plenty for the selection committee of captain Andrew Flintoff, coach Duncan Fletcher and a handful of senior players to ponder.

Flintoff, himself battling ankle soreness, and Fletcher have copped plenty of criticism for the teams they have chosen for the first two Test defeats and haven't always presented a united front.

With uncertainty over what type of pitch the third Test will be played on, the English must get their bowling line-up correct, with both teams expected to delay selection until the morning of the match.

England speedsters Steve Harmison and James Anderson failed to fire in the first two Tests and are under the gun, but most pressure is on left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, who has previously been favoured over Monty Panesar.

Panesar bowled impressively in the tour game at the WACA last weekend and is widely expected to replace Giles in the side.

Giles' best chance of playing could be the pitch, with the prospect of England playing both spinners if it looks like being another flat deck.

A batsman's paradise this season, the WACA has suited spinners like never before and been barely recognizable as the fast and bouncy surface that was once considered the home of fast bowling.

The Test pitch is not expected to be too lively either and is tipped to be a little two-paced.

Coming off a century at the WACA in the tour match against Western Australia, England opener Alastair Cook said that after Adelaide, he wondered if all the talk of hard and fast Australian pitches was a myth.

"You hear everything about coming to Australia and the bouncy wickets, but the bounciest wickets I've played on in my career so far have all been in England," Cook said on Monday.

"It's been surprising ... so I don't know what's going to happen on the wicket this week," he said.

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