Ashley Giles has stepped up his bid for a part in this winter’s defence of the Ashes by saying there is no need to make a sales pitch to reclaim his place.
Fellow left-armer Monty Panesar is the man in possession of the spinner’s berth before the five-match Test series in Australia but Giles hopes the all-round package he offers sways the selectors for the opening Test in Brisbane starting on November 23.
The 33-year-old Warwickshire left-armer is the elder statesman of the 16-man party, for which he was selected despite being sidelined since returning home from Pakistan to have hip surgery last November.
It has been a long haul back but Giles, in India with the Champions’ Trophy one-day squad to develop his fitness, is "95 per cent fit" and on schedule to leave coach Duncan Fletcher and captain Andrew Flintoff with a difficult decision.
"If I back myself, then I hope it’s a close call," Giles said. "I don’t think I have to sell myself to Fletch, Freddie or my other team-mates.
"They can see how I have done in the past, they can hopefully see the effort I’ve made to come back now. I am in the best shape I have been in for a decade and I want to get back.
"I know the importance of my batting, particularly, in getting me into this team.
"But I am not going to knock on Duncan’s door and sell my story."
If Giles has a foot in the door, it owes as much to England’s vulnerable tail without him.
His inclusion at number eight would provide some solidity late in the innings, the most obvious example of which came in the Ashes-clinching match at The Oval last summer when he struck a half-century to snuff out Australia’s hopes.
On the bowling side, Giles is increasing his output in the nets, where he has been working on switching from over the wicket to round it alternately and seamlessly, something with which he struggled prior to his lay-off.
England’s coaching team have also been attempting to simulate Test-match conditions by making him bowl in separate spells throughout the day. Having coped with the challenge, Giles is confident he will be match-fit for the Gabba, regardless of minutes in the middle beforehand.
He said: "We don’t want to play a Test match tomorrow because we are still building up to play a Test match in November.
"If I feel confident I can go into a Test match there is so much more to it than just how many games I can play.
"I could play two games and bowl absolute dog’s tripe and not be feeling happy about myself.
"Or I could play no cricket, be bowling well and walk
straight into a Test match. That is where I would rather be."
For the first half of this year Giles, after experiencing post-operation pain, underwent groin surgery.
He said: "There were times when I didn’t know whether I would bowl again in the back garden.
"After the first hip operation and after the groin operation, we were still going nowhere and that was a big concern.
"It was a crossroads, definitely, because I couldn’t go on the way I was.
"We had to have one last dart at the hip, it is not an area in which you can keep fishing around."
Since undergoing his second hip operation, in Colorado in late June, Giles has not felt discomfort in the right hip.
His recuperation gathered pace in the final weeks of the domestic season, one in which Panesar’s credentials improved dramatically.
Giles, after watching his rival bamboozle Pakistan, said: "There was frustration at not playing, there was ‘this bloke’s good’, which he is, but there was also an admission, if I am honest, that you don’t win Test matches unless you get 20 wickets.
"Monty was a huge part of that, so good on him.
"The question of me and Monty competing is going to come up again and again in Australia but it depends on balance, what Freddie and Fletch go for.
"Ultimately, if he plays ahead of me, I will support him.
"I would expect the same back from him and know I would get it.
"You cannot afford to have any divisions in the side because they are lethal."
The spin twins may even operate in unison should Sydney offer its usual turn and bounce.
"I have always enjoyed bowling with another spinner because you do create a lot more pace to the game, you get the overs through quickly and build pressure," Giles said.
Meanwhile, fast bowler Steve Harmison missed England’s fitness session yesterday due to an upset stomach.