Cricket

Ottis Gibson encourages Mark Footitt to believe in himself

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Mark Footitt has been told to trust his own ability as he attempts to force his way into the first Test side against South Africa on Boxing Day.

England's pace ranks swelled to seven when fit-again Steven Finn arrived to join the original squad, ramping up the competition for places.

James Anderson, Stuart Broad and all-rounder Ben Stokes can consider themselves automatic picks, leaving Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Finn and the solitary left-armer Footitt to contest one spot.

Finn's match sharpness is not yet clear, meaning the door could open for the uncapped Footitt - county cricket's top first-class wicket-taker in the past two seasons with 158 for Derbyshire.

To get the shirt the new Surrey signing will need to improve on his showing against a South Africa Invitational XI in Potchefstroom, where he claimed two wickets but was worryingly expensive.

Bowling coach Ottis Gibson suggested that Footitt had been tense at times but simply needed to believe in himself.

"There were obviously nerves and everything with it being his first bowl for England but he got a wicket and then settled down," said the Bajan.

"It's his bowling for Derby over the last couple of years that has got him here and my message to him is to do exactly what he's been doing for them.

"There's no point him trying to be someone else when he gets here.

"He's impressed the selectors - that's why he got picked - so the best thing he can do now is relax in this environment because that's the way for him to produce his best.

"The way he has taken wickets over the last couple of years should give him the confidence to believe he can do it here. It's a step up but the key thing for him is to find the balance of managing his nerves and being as relaxed as he can to do what he has been doing for the last two seasons.

"He's got good pace, he can swing it and he's an wicket-taker. He is going to be an asset."

England's second, and final, warm-up match against South Africa A starts on Sunday.

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