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Injury fears lessen for Ashes rivals

india Updated: Nov 19, 2006 21:29 IST
Reuters
Reuters
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The Australian and England teams were breathing a little easier in the lead-up to the next week's first Ashes test after their injured players starting showing signs of improvement.

England fast bowler Steve Harmison completed a 40-minute net session in Adelaide on Sunday to ease fears about his availability for the series opener in Brisbane.

Harmison withdrew from England's final practice match against South Australia after straining his side but is steadily improving.

Australia paceman Shaun Tait was also back in action in Adelaide on Sunday after leaving the field the previous day with cramp while middle-order batsman Damien Martyn is expected to be passed fit after missing a domestic match on Friday with an elbow problem.

Australia's biggest concern is with all rounder Shane Watson after he strained his right hamstring in Perth on Friday.

Australia called up Michael Clarke on standby for Watson but are optimistic the all rounder may still play after his injury was not as bad as first suspected.

"It's a little better than anticipated," Australia coach John Buchanan told reporters in Brisbane.

"There's no deadline. Possibly the object tomorrow would be to have him bowl at may be 60 per cent."

Australia named five specialist five bowlers in their squad although only three are likely to play. Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee are certain to be selected with Tait, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson vying for the other spot.

Buchanan said all three quicks had strong claims and the decision on who would play would not be made until closer to the match when the conditions could be assessed.

"Stuart was an outstanding bowler for us in South Africa and then into Bangladesh, so his test starting point has been very good," Buchanan said.

"(Johnson) was quite a devastating bowler against India's top-class order in a spell and he can make batsmen hurry their shots.

"And (Tait) can trouble any players with his pace, he's the quickest going round in Australia, so I'd have no doubt he'd cause England hassles if he played."

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