ENGLAND coach Andy Flower admits he will be taking a gamble on the fitness of James Anderson as the fast bowler prepares to spearhead his side’s attack in the third Ashes Test, having undertaken two long-haul flights in the space of four days.
Anderson, who has taken eight wickets in the series so far, flew home on Wednesday to be at the birth of his second daughter and was only reunited with the rest of England’s touring party on Monday.
Flower conceded he could not be certain that the 28-year-old would have recovered fully from two 24-hour flights when England and Australia renew hostilities in Perth on Thursday, but hopes his decision to allow his premier strike bowler time off won’t backfire.
“It is not the ideal preparation but we will try to get the right amount of rest into him over the next few days,” Flower said.
“In competition, you can’t always get perfect preparation. You get things that can go wrong with illness, family or injuries. There are all sorts of distractions, but this is just one of those things you have to deal with.
“James will have the same amount of practice as the rest of the guys.”
As well as concerns over his opening bowler, Flower has also had to remind his stellar batsman, Kevin Pietersen, who returned to form in Adelaide with a double ton, of his responsibilities following the fine he received for speeding in a yellow Lamborghini arranged for him by former Australia spinner Shane Warne.
Pietersen was also reprimanded for his outburst on Twitter aimed at the Adelaide groundstaff, whom he branded “pathetic”, before the second Test.
“The tweet has been dealt with, and Kevin has been reminded of his responsibilities,” said Flower. “The speeding fine is a personal issue that bears little relation to anything that happens in the team.”
Flower (inset) also confirmed he has a clear idea of the seamer he will select to replace the injured Stuart Broad – Surrey’s Chris Tremlett is thought to be the favourite – but no decision will be formally announced until the morning of the Test.
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THE GOSSIP FROM DOWN UNDER
HAURITZ’S GARAGE SALE
Sportsmen these days often resort to a very 21st century method of venting their frustration in the form of Twitter rants. The world of social media is clearly not for shunned Aussie spinner Nathan Hauritz, however, who chose to throw his toys out of the pram, or more accurately, his jumpers out of the garage, in the form of a bizarre kit sale. Hauritz has been strangely overlooked for this Ashes series and spent part of his weekend auctioning off some of his Test kit in an impromptu giveaway in Sydney. He told stunned onlookers that he did not play for his country any more.
BROAD ON THE AIRWAVES
Stuart Broad, ruled out of the rest of the Ashes series with a side strain last week, is to remain in Australia as part of the BBC’s Test Match Special team in Perth. Broad tweeted yesterday, self-mockingly, that he’d been employed specifically to make the tea for his former skipper Michael Vaughan, also a TMS expert summariser.
HUGHES PUNCHDRUNK BY BEER
Former Aussie Test selector Merv Hughes conceded he was “blown away” by Michael Beer’s selection. Hughes said Beer’s name had not been discussed before his departure from the panel in October.
NICE TO MEET YOU, TOO
Beer, himself, meanwhile, admitted he will meet many of the Aussie squad for the first time this week. The 26-year-old, who has only five first class matches under his belt, met Ryan Harris and Shane Watson in the Qantas Lounge in Brisbane.