Ponting, McGrath struggling with injuries
Ponting strained muscles in his back whereas McGrath has a bruised left heel that requires a pain killer.india Updated: Nov 26, 2006 17:24 IST
A dominating performance against England in the first Ashes Test could come at a cost for Australia, with captain Ricky Ponting and strike bowler Glenn McGrath both injured.
Ponting, who scored 196 and 60 not out in Australia's two innings, strained muscles in his back as he turned to take a run on Sunday and did not return to the field for England's 80 overs. McGrath, coming back from 10 months out of the Test arena, has a bruised left heel that required a pain-killing injection and restricted him to 12 overs in England's second innings. He took 6-50 in the first innings to skittle England for 157 in reply to Australia's mammoth 602-9 declared.
But his return on Sunday was a relatively meager 0-30 in three short spells. He spent about an hour off the field at various times getting treatment.
Team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said that he expected Ponting and McGrath to play on Monday as Australia chases the five wickets it needs to win the first Test.
He also said both should be okay for the second Test starting Friday in Adelaide.
Any doubts over the fitness of 36-year-old McGrath and Ponting are good news for England, with four more Tests over six weeks. McGrath has had a "hot spot" on his heel for a long time, Kountouris said.
"I think just the fact he's come from one-day cricket into bowling a lot more overs that soreness became quite severe today," Kountouris said. "I expect him to be right ... it's a bit of pain and we have to deal with it."
Kountouris said Ponting's back strain was not as bad as it first looked.
"It was quite painful at the time," he said. "He's improved quite a bit and I expect him to take the field tomorrow. "It's hard to look too far into the future but I would seriously doubt that there would be any concerns of him playing the next Test match."
Opener Justin Langer, who was unbeaten 100 on Sunday and was there when Ponting hurt the left side of his back, was even more confident his captain would play next week.
"I would bet my house on it," he said.