Chairman of selectors David Graveney expects unchanged England to be uncompromising in their bid to avoid a first home Test series defeat in six years this week.
England will rely on the same dozen players on duty for the second Test defeat to level the npower series against India at The Brit Oval. The last time England lost a series here was back in 2001 when the Australians inflicted an Ashes thrashing.
Player conduct will also be under the spotlight after a fractious affair at Trent Bridge, eventually won by India by seven wickets, bristling with barbs, barges, beamers and beans.
Although it will be the jelly bean affair which will be remembered in years to come, match referee Ranjan Madugalle’s only action was to fine Shanthakumaran Sreesanth for his physical contact with England captain Michael Vaughan.
“I think it will be keenly contested,” said Graveney. “The referee will be aware of how things were perceived at Trent Bridge.
“You want a full-on contest but I’m sure both captains will reiterate to their players that there is a level of behaviour that is acceptable and also that there is a level of behaviour that is not acceptable.
“The overall behaviour of the teams and atmosphere they played in, which was tough and uncompromising, has to be monitored.
“The game has changed over a long period of time. Whatever England do or don’t do, we play the game in an atmosphere exactly the same as any other team.
“It is somewhat ironic that during the winter it was suggested that we were not standing up to the Australians.
“That is the way the modern game is played. I don’t believe we do anything more or less than any other cricket team in the world,” he added.
After his first Test defeat since returning from long-term injury, captain Vaughan was left to apologise for the juvenile dropping of sweets on the pitch which incensed tail-ender Zaheer Khan on the third evening, rather than focus on the cricket issues which led to the result.
But Graveney hopes the unsavoury prank has now been left in the past.
“The incident regarding the jelly beans was childish and has no place on a cricket pitch, let alone a Test match,” Graveney said.
“Whoever it is, I am sure is suitably embarrassed. We talked about it and the matter will be dealt with internally,” he added.
England will now have to emulate their feat of last year, when they forced a 1-1 draw with victory over India in Mumbai, to extend their unbeaten run to 12 Test series.
“We have been 1-0 down before and come back to draw or win a series and I am sure that the players will be conscious of that and very keen to maintain our impressive record at home in Test cricket,” said Graveney.
“While India fully deserved their victory at Trent Bridge, there were many positive aspects to our performance.
“We were particularly pleased with the way our inexperienced bowling attack performed and they will be hoping to build on that in the final Test.
Giant paceman Chris Tremlett, whose match figures of 47.1-15-92-6 at Nottingham were the pick of the English bunch, will be the main threat to the Indians on a springy Oval surface.
Fellow tall fast bowlers Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff have been successful in extracting steepling bounce at the ground but both are only in the early stages of comebacks from injury.
“Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison and Matthew Hoggard are all making good progress in their recoveries but the selectors felt it was too soon to consider them for Test cricket,” added Graveney.
Uncapped Leicestershire youngster Stuart Broad will also come under consideration due to his 6ft 6ins height, having been 12th man in the first two Tests.