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McGrath set for Ashes showdown

"He almost plays as two bowlers in our team," Ponting said stressing how keen he was to have McGrath back.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2005 15:10 IST

Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath has been passed fit to play the fifth and final Ashes Test against England starting at The Oval on Thursday.

McGrath, 35, had been battling a right elbow injury that ruled him out of England's three-wicket fourth Test win at Trent Bridge and last weekend's tour game against Essex at Chelmsford.

England twice won in his absence to go 2-1 up - McGrath missed the hosts' second Test win at Edgbaston with an ankle injury after treading on a cricket ball during the warm-up.

McGrath replaced fellow seamer Michael Kasprowicz in the only change to Australia's Trent Bridge line-up.

Before McGrath came through a bowling stint in The Oval nets on Wednesday, Australia captain Ricky Ponting stressed how keen he was to have McGrath, one of only four bowlers to have taken 500 Test wickets, availaible for a game where only a win will preserve his side's 16-year grip on the Ashes.

"He's always missed any time he misses a game. There's no doubt we've missed him on a couple of occasions this series already so it would be great to have him back in the side."

"He almost plays as two bowlers in our team if you like. He's probably our main strike bowler with the new ball and at the same time you can call on him, through the course of the day, to bowl some tight overs as well."

"He's a vital player in our side, someone who's done exceptionally well for us over the years, especially in big games and that's what this one is building up to be."

But Ponting stressed that Australia would not go into the game with a less than fully fit McGrath. "I wouldn't take him at 60 or 70 percent, no way. We can't afford to do that in a game like this."

"With the situation of the series we'll probably have to be a little bit more cautious going in. We have to make sure he's not just right to bowl on Thursday morning but he has to be bowl right on every morning of a Test match," said Ponting.

Australia team:

Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting (capt), Damien Martyn, Michael Clarke, Simon Katich, Adam Gilchrist (wkt), Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Shaun Tait

First Published: Sep 08, 2005 15:10 IST