'Jelly' concerns at Edgbaston as Australia look to regroup

GROUNDSMAN Steve Rouse admits he is facing a race against time to prepare the Edgbaston pitch for next week&rsquo;s third Ashes Test, claiming heavy rain has turned it into &ldquo;a jelly&rdquo;.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a nightmare,&rdquo; Rouse confessed. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve had two actual dry days in the last 10 and the wicket is like a jelly.<br /><br />&ldquo;It has to be ready a day before and I&rsquo;ve got no chance of getting it solid, not with the weather coming in.&rdquo;<br /><br />Rouse suffered similar problems at Warwickshire&rsquo;s ground four years ago when three inches of rainfall left him four days behind schedule.<br /><br />That wicket proved to be slow but culminated in one of the most thrilling Test matches ever with England triumphing by just two runs.<br /><br />Indeed, England have a good record at Edgbaston, winning 22 of the 43 Tests hosted there, drawing 13 and losing only eight.<br /><br />Australia, meanwhile, look set to be without Brett Lee once again for the third Test after the fast bowler was left out of a 12-man squad to play Northamptonshire in a three-day tour match starting today.<br /><br />Lee has failed to recover from the side strain which forced him to sit out the opening two Tests, and it is believed the fourth Test at Headingley on August 7 is a more realistic return date.<br /><br />Mike Hussey will captain the side with Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke both rested, although under-fire pair Mitchell Johnson and Phil Hughes are both included.<br /><br />Indeed, Hussey has set a game plan for Johnson in a bid to bring him back to form. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to bowl him into the ground as there is just over a week until the Test starts,&rdquo; he said.