England must be bold to keep Ashes: Chappell

England must make bold selections and play positive cricket if they want to retain the Ashes, former Australia captain Ian Chappell said on Monday.
Chappell expects Australia to win back the famous urn they lost last year for the first time since 1987 but believes the choice of Andrew Flintoff to replace injured captain Michael Vaughan was a step in the right direction for England.
“I thought they made the brave choice going with Flintoff even though there are doubts over his fitness,” Chappell told Reuters.
“I initially thought the captaincy would put too much responsibility on his shoulders but now I think it was the right thing to do.”
Chappell said England had reaped rewards for positive selections before the 2005 Ashes series, opting for Kevin Pietersen in the middle order instead of the far more experienced Graham Thorpe.
“I felt they would go with Thorpe but opting for Pietersen proved to be an inspired move and he contributed hugely to England winning the series with his attacking batting,” he said.
“People say he has a suspect technique but I have looked closely at him. Although he has weaknesses like any attacking player he has plenty of strengths to his game as well.”
Chappell says it is important England show faith in young left-arm spinner Monty Panesar ahead of the experienced Ashley Giles and stick with their best wicketkeeper, Chris Read, instead of going back to Geraint Jones.
“As soon as I hear the names of Giles and Jones coming back into the selectors’ thoughts I will start to worry for England,” he said.
“Panesar showed against Pakistan that he is a real attacking bowler who will get good batsmen out like Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden,” Chappell added.
“Reid is clearly the best wicketkeeper in England and he should play.”
Chappell also believes the form of fast bowler Steve Harmison will be vital for England.
“Harmison is the type of bowler who can cause real problems on the hard wickets in Australia with his height and pace,” he said.
“But England need the Steve Harmison who played against Pakistan at Old Trafford, not the one who played the rest of the summer there.”
Chappell also hopes Australia captain Ponting leads his team more decisively than he did in England last year when Vaughan clearly held the upper hand.
“When you looked at the two on the field Vaughan was always the one who appeared to be in control of his emotions and his team,” Chappell said. “His body language was very good.
“Ricky would often find himself engaged in discussions with other senior players like (Adam) Gilchrist or (Shane) Warne and it wasn’t always easy to tell who was in charge.
“It will be interesting to see if that changes in this series because then we will know that Ponting has identified it as a weakness in his game.”
Chappell fully expects Warne’s leg spin bowling to have a huge impact on the series, just as it did in England when he took 40 wickets in a losing cause.
“He is the kind of player whose influence on games extends way beyond his actual bowling,” Chappell said. “He is always trying something different and he just promotes uncertainty in the minds of batsmen and makes things happen that change matches.”
The first of five Ashes tests starts in Brisbane on November 23.

Copyright Reuters, 2006