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England line up Loye to debut against Australia

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Perth:England are considering handing a full international debut to 34-year-old opening batsman Mal Loye in the triangular series one-day clash with Australia in Brisbane.

Loye, called up after Michael Vaughan's hamstring injury, has been on the fringes of the national set-up for more than a decade after representing England at under-19 level.

Loye, who was playing grade cricket in New Zealand before his call-up, is expected to win selection ahead of Ravi Bopara who came into the squad as a replacement for the injured Kevin Pietersen.

"Mal Loye is a definite option for us, he opens the batting for Lancashire where he has been successful," said stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff.

"I understand he has been scoring some runs in New Zealand, so I wouldn't have any worries about him coming in."

If he plays against Australia, Loye will be England's second seasoned debutant in a week after 36-year-old wicketkeeper Paul Nixon as they search for their best limited-overs side ahead of the World Cup.

Loye, Flintoff's Lancashire team-mate and a member of England's 30-man provisional World Cup squad, said he was delighted but not surprised to get the call-up.

"I'm not really surprised because an injury occurred," he said.

"I'm obviously delighted and hopefully somewhere in the tour I might get an opportunity.

"If I play tomorrow or in the next few days it would be the ultimate."

Loye faces a baptism of fire at the top of the order, with Australia recalling champion fast bowler Glenn McGrath and speedster Brett Lee.

Rookie paceman Ben Hilfenhaus and Ashes star Stuart Clark will miss the game, with Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Bracken to form the other half of a four-pronged pace attack.

In good news for the other tri-series team, New Zealand, star fast bowler Shane Bond has been cleared of serious injury after being forced from the field with back soreness during Sunday's loss to England in Hobart.

Bond has a long history of back problems, but bone scans on Thursday confirmed that the soreness was not caused by skeletal damage and he will remain with their squad.

Bond entered the record books last Friday, becoming just the second New Zealand bowler to claim a one-day hat-trick in the loss to Australia.

AFP

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