England await injury verdicts

Published: Saturday, December 25, 1999, 5:30 [IST]
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Durban: England await injury verdicts while South Africa face a selection dilemma on the eve of the third test at Kingsmead tomorrow. Another problem for both sides has been this week's flash floods in Durban, which have killed at least 23 people and left thousands homeless.

England have been understandably wary about another under-prepared pitch after they were thrashed by an innings and 21 runs in the first test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. However, the sun was shining today and latest reports said the pitch was drying fast. Several members of the South African squad have played in the domestic limited overs competition since the second test ended almost two weeks ago, but England have been largely inactive.

A four-day tour match against a Border-Eastern Province XI in East London at the weekend was reduced to just five sessions of playing time by rain. The weather has also hampered efforts to get left-arm pace bowler Alan Mullally fully fit following a side strain. ''We want Mullally fit for selection, but there's no way we can test his fitness until he gets out on the grass and bowls,'' said England coach Duncan Fletcher.

''Bowling indoors doesn't help.'' England's other injury worry is the finger injury batsman Michael Vaughan sustained in East London. However, Fletcher was cautiously confident Vaughan would make the grade. ''Vaughan's got about a 60-40 chance of playing,'' Fletcher said. ''The injury has improved a lot in the last 48 hours, and hopefully it will continue to do so.'' His team's enforced lack of preparation was of obvious concern to the England coach.

''Even though we're well into the tour you've still got to get bat to ball as much as possible, but the weather has hampered that,'' Fletcher said. ''Michael Atherton was saying he felt as if he hadn't batted for some time." South Africa face a choice between left-arm wrist spinner Paul Adams and tearaway paceman Mornantau Hayward.


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