Duncan Fletcher has insisted he stands by his selections for the opening two Tests despite England’s disastrous start to the Ashes series.
The England coach has been widely criticised for recalling wicketkeeper Geraint Jones and left-arm spinner Ashley Giles and neither has performed effectively enough to warrant their selections.
Jones - who averaged 42 in the final two Tests of last summer - was preferred to Chris Read behind the stumps for his superior batting but scored only 11 runs in two innings at the Adelaide Oval and has now recorded only two half-centuries in his last 25 Test innings.
The absence of Monty Panesar was even more controversial after he had claimed 31 wickets in his opening 10 Tests with Fletcher again preferring Giles because of his ability to score useful runs down the order.
But despite England’s heart-breaking defeat in the Second Test at Adelaide yesterday, Fletcher remained defiant and believes England chose the right line-up for both Test defeats.
"From my point of view I don’t think we got that team selection wrong," claimed Fletcher. "We lost that match in an hour yesterday - that’s where we got it wrong with the batters.
"If we had batted well there and continued in a really positive vein then who knows what would have happened?
"We have to look at the games and see what we have to do to get back into it. After the first defeat we had a long chat about certain things.
"We played some very good cricket for four days, but in Test cricket you have to make sure you’re at the top of your game in every session and we just lost it in that last session.
"If you lose it in sessions towards the back end of the game, it becomes more and more difficult to get back because you haven’t got time."
Fletcher’s loyalty to Warwickshire spinner Giles has been particularly controversial after he struggled to make use of a spinning pitch yesterday to allow Australia the opportunity to seal victory in Adelaide with 19 balls remaining.
He also failed to score the runs expected of him at number eight and suffered a duck as England collapsed to 129 all out, but Fletcher insists all the criticism over selection should not just be directed at him.
Although Fletcher and captain Andrew Flintoff have the final say, they are also members of a management committee also including Andrew Strauss, Paul Collingwood and Jones.
"I’m not the sole selector on this tour," explained Fletcher. "Sure, there is a lot of anger, but I could have taken the easy option and gone with the other players (like Panesar), but we have to sit down and think what is the best side with all the knowledge we’ve got within that group of people.
"We will discuss it with the rest of the players, I don’t sit there and say this is what we’re going with. We will discuss it and decide what is the best plan to win the next Test match.
"For the last Test a discussion took place and we as a selection panel thought that was the best side to win that Test match, although Andrew and I had the final say."
The five players in the squad yet to feature in the Test series - Read, Panesar, Liam Plunkett, Ed Joyce and Sajid Mahmood - are expected to play in Friday’s one-day match between an England Invitation XI and the Chairman’s XI at Lilac Hill.
The remainder of that team will be made up of the Academy squad based in Perth with Michael Vaughan also expected to make an appearance and the five could also feature in England’s two-day game against Western Australia over the weekend.
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