|Player:||JM Anderson, MP Vaughan, RT Ponting, KP Pietersen, J Lewis, AC Gilchrist, MG Johnson, SR Clark, SW Tait, JR Thomson|
|Event:||Commonwealth Bank Series 2006/07|
DateLine: 2nd February 2007
Embattled England received another injury set-back on Thursday, losing fast bowler James Anderson for the rest of the tri-series ahead of their do-or-die clash against Australia. The tourists, who must win here on Friday to have any realistic chance of making the finals, will also be without captain Michael Vaughan, while Australian skipper Ricky Ponting will undergo a late fitness test. Australia, already through to the finals after six wins from six matches, will also hand a one-day debut to lightning quick Shaun Tait. England's Anderson was flown home after suffering a recurrence of a long-standing back problem, with officials keen to make sure he is available for next month's World Cup. "Whilst he is pain-free at the moment, based on specialist advice with a view to him being fully fit for the entire World Cup, he has been advised as a very precautionary approach to be rested for the rest of the series," an England spokesman said. The right-arm paceman had been in good form in the series, taking eight wickets at 20.62, but now follows batsman Kevin Pietersen home in another injury blow for the tourists. However, seamer Jon Lewis may return for England after an ankle injury, while Vaughan was touted as a possible starter in their final match against New Zealand. England have won only one of their six matches and need to win their last two with New Zealand losing twice to be sure of making the finals.
Meanwhile Ponting will be assessed early on Friday after injuring a hip during Thursday's training, with Victorian batsman Brad Hodge called up as a late replacement. "Ricky suffered a slight strain in the hip region during training this afternoon and will be reviewed tomorrow morning before play, where a final decision will be made on his availability," Australian physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said. If Ponting is unfit, wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist will again take over the captaincy, as was the case when he was rested earlier in the series. Brett Lee was set to make way for the talented Tait and Stuart Clark was recalled at the expense of Mitchell Johnson, as Australia juggled their embarrassment of quick bowling riches. Tait, whose slinging action is reminiscent of former Australian quick Jeff Thomson, played two Tests in 2005 and vies for the mantle of Australia's fastest bowler with Lee. Captain Ponting said the national selectors were keen to blood Tait before they choose their final World Cup squad, adding the 23-year-old was also likely to play against New Zealand on Sunday. "I would probably imagine that he would play both games," Ponting said in Sydney on Thursday. "It's more than likely, I'd suggest. With only a couple of games left before the finals start and really only a few games left before we have to name our World Cup squad, I think the selectors, by naming him in this team, would indicate they want to have a bit of a look at him before that World Cup squad is picked." Tait showed good form against the English early in their tour and was in Australia's extended squad for the first two Ashes Tests. "He is very quick and he swings the new ball so he knocks over top-order batsmen and then, when the ball gets old, it starts reversing," Ponting wrote in his column in The Australian newspaper on Thursday. "The way he bowls his yorkers, he is obviously going to be a very good weapon at the end of the innings as well."