Tremlett on hand if quicks out of Sri Lanka Tests

Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2007, 10:51 [IST]
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England will be able to fly in Chris Tremlett from nearby India if any of their injury-hit fast bowlers are ruled out of the forthcoming Test series away to Sri Lanka.

With strike bowler Steve Harmison already a doubtful starter for the first Test in Kandy from Saturday because of back spasms, fellow quick James Anderson was temporarily sidelined with an injury in the left ankle on Monday's second day of a three-day match against a Sri Lanka Cricket XI in Colombo.

But if they do need a replacement for either Anderson or Durham quick Harmison, a late entrant to the touring squad after proving his fitness playing first-class cricket in South Africa following hernia problems, Tremlett will be only a few hours' flight away.

Hampshire fast bowler Tremlett, who played three Tests during the last English season, is a member of the England Performance Programme (EPP), the national academy squad, which has now relocated to the Indian city of Chennai from its home in Loughborough, central England.

It was Harmison's groin injury which led to the 26-year-old Tremlett making his Test debut against India at Lord's in July. He has so far taken 13 Tests wickets at a shade under 30 apiece.

Teams from the 13-man EPP squad, while in Chennai, play a three-day match and a four-day match against a mixture of Indian and Sri Lankan first-class opposition.

Joining the players in India will be former England spinner Ashley Giles, now director of cricket at Warwickshire after a hip injury led to his retirement from playing last season, and ex-England batsman Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire's professional cricket director.

"The EPP is a great initiative as it offers the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) the opportunity to highlight those players they feel are capable of going on to win future matches for England," said Kevin Shine, the EPP head coach, in a statement issued by the governing body.

He added: "We have based ourselves in Mohali and Chennai in order to provide world-class support for the England Test team in Sri Lanka and to give the players further experience in different and difficult conditions."

Harmison, 29, has taken 205 wickets in 54 Tests at an average of under 31 but has struggled to reproduce consistently the form he showed in 2004 when he was ranked as the world's leading fast bowler.

He now finds himself competing for a Test place alongside fellow seam bowlers Matthew Hoggard, Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Broad and James Anderson in what could be a four-man attack.

England's batsmen failed to fire as the tourists were bowled out for 134 in reply to their hosts' first innings 288 for nine declared.

But Hoggard gave England a boost by taking five wickets, including three in an over, as the Sri Lanka Cricket XI collapsed to 77 for eight in their second innings at stumps, a lead of 241 runs.

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