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Fletcher defends choice of bowlers for Adelaide test

Written by: Staff

ADELAIDE, Dec 4 (Reuters) Coach Duncan Fletcher has defended England's decision to field an unchanged bowling attack in the second Ashes test against Australia.

Despite calls for Monty Panesar to be included, the Northamptonshire spinner was overlooked for the match after England retained the same starting side that lost the first test in Brisbane.

England have put on a much improved performance in Adelaide and head into the final day leading by 97 runs with a draw looming as the most likely result.

Fletcher said he was pleased with the way England's bowlers had played on lifeless pitch that offered little assistance to either the spinners or quicks and the decision to go with four seamers and Ashley Giles as the lone spinner was right.

''The key here is the seamers have played an important role in both sides for the moment,'' Fletcher told a news conference today.

''We thought that the skiddy bowlers would be more effective.

When we played South Australia here in that warm-up game Jimmy Anderson bowled very well on here and (Matthew) Hoggard bowled well.

''We thought it would be that skiddiness that would be to our advantage on that wicket.'' Anderson managed only 1-85 but Hoggard bowled superbly to finish with 7-109, the best figures by an Englshman at the Adelaide Oval since Jack White's 8-126 in 1928/29.

DIFFICULT TASK ''It was a pretty difficult wicket for the bowlers...and I just compliment Hoggard for just sticking to his task,'' Fletcher said.

''Hoggie is like that, that's why he's always been a very useful member of our side.

''He's prepared to run through a brick wall for us. There's a lot of overs he bowled in the last few days and he's still pretty cheery out there and he's that kind of individual, he's really prepared to stick it out and get stuck in.'' Fletcher said he was also pleased by the improvement shown by England's main strike bowler Steve Harmison, even though he failed to take a single wicket in Australia's innings.

However, the Durham speedster did beat the bat on a number of occassions and there was no repeat of the erratic wides that affected him in Brisbane.

''I am sure he's turned a bit of a corner. From our point of view he's bowled some good lines, good lengths on a wicket that doesn't really suit him,'' he said.

Fletcher said England would wait to see how the first session develops tomorrow before they decide whether to push for victory or settle for a draw but insisted the team had already proven their detractors wrong.

''It's a pretty difficult game, we'll have to see how the wicket plays first hour or two tomorrow. We will reassess it and see where we are and have a discussion tonight and then have a look at it tomorrow morning,'' he said.

''After that result in Brisbane a lot of people said would we not get back into the series.

''I just think this side has done that on numerous occasions and it's done it again where it's shown a lot of character and come back and really played good cricket for four days.

''That's important for a youthful side, we talked about being consistent over a long period of time and they've come here and put in session after session where they've played some very good cricket.'' REUTERS PDS PM1602

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