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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 11:23 GMT
Geoff Boycott column
Geoff Boycott's column appears regularly on BBC Sport
By Geoff Boycott
Former England batsman

England played well to draw the first Test in Nagpur but they might have a bit of a selection problem for Mohali.

I would do away with the Somerset lad Ian Blackwell and the selectors might want to replace him with Shaun Udal in a straight swap.

Harbhajan Singh
Even India's Harbhajan Singh struggled on the Nagpur wicket

But I'm not so sure two spinners is the way to go because the Indian batsmen can play spin on these pitches with a stick of rhubarb. England might as well play another seamer.

In the last match, spinners had very little effect on the game and the seamers had to do a lot of donkey work.

Unless the wicket turns a great deal and the spinners become match-winners then they're money for old rope.

If we continue to go with two spinners by playing Udal, the danger is that with three Test matches back to back we are going to overbowl our three seamers.

They are our main strength and we don't want to take away our aces. If you think of a pack of aces, one of them has gone home anyway and we only have three left.

Ian Bell
Ian Bell is the guy whose place is under pressure
Geoffrey Boycott

So we need to look after the seamers. Mohali is a bit less humid, but in Mumbai 60% of Tests have had results and it's hot and dry and energy sapping. We don't want them knackered.

Of course selection for Mohali will depend on the pitch. In Nagpur, the pitch nullified everybody except Matthew Hoggard.

The pitch is everything to cricket and we don't pay enough attention to it. We talk about the batsmen and the bowlers but those 22 yards are the most important bit.

If the groundsman makes another flat, slow pitch that my mum would get runs on it will be a tedious draw.

If it is a result pitch then all the bowlers come into the game. We should really pay the groundsmen more because they have the most important job in cricket.

As for the batsmen, Paul Collingwood played the best innings of his life in Nagpur. He played beautifully and never looked like making a mistake so I have terrific praise for him.

He should now have the confidence to put pressure on other individuals. If he keeps playing this well he might force one of them out.

Ian Bell is the guy whose place is under pressure.

He looks good but that doesn't cut it. It's how many runs you get. Wisden doesn't record how, it records how many.

Cook looks good and I like the way he plays

Bell's got two Test matches to assert himself before Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick come back into the side in the summer.

When they're all fit in England there'll be a bit of a battle for places and the man now at the top of the order - Alastair Cook - is going to put pressure on everybody.

What we've lacked for a long time is an old-fashioned opener who can stick around, wear the bowlers down and give us a solid platform.

We've got plenty of people who can play shots but we could do with a couple of players who are going to build an innings.

Cook looks good and I like the way he plays. I like his footwork, his patience and his concentration. As he plays more, his range of shots will improve as well.

Geoff Boycott is part of the BBC Test Match Special team providing live radio and online commentary of the India-England Test series.


SEE ALSO
India grounds guide - Mohali
11 Feb 06 |  Cricket
Paul Collingwood column
06 Mar 06 |  England
England in India 2006
25 Feb 06 |  Future tour dates


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