Injury rules bowler out of South Australia match November 17, 2006

Harmison suffers side strain

Cricinfo staff

Steve Harmison's preparations for the first Test have been upset © Getty Images

England's build-up to next week's opening Ashes Test has suffered another blow with Steve Harmison forced out of the tour match against South Australia with a side strain. Harmison was omitted from the three-day game, which is the final fixture before Thursday's opening Test, as a precaution and replaced by Sajid Mahmood. Scans proved inconclusive and he had a painkilling injection.

Duncan Fletcher, England's coach, said: "We'll just have to see how this injection goes and what effect it has on him We're not going to guarantee it, but we're planning, if he's fine tomorrow and it's not as bad as it was, we'll give him a bowl and see how he feels with it."

An England team spokesman said Harmison felt tightness in his side when he woke this morning and, although he bowled during the warm-up, team management decided to rest him. The news comes three days after Marcus Trescothick quit the tour and returned home citing a reoccurrence of a stress-related illness.

Harmison's withdrawal leaves him underdone in the lead-up to the Test series after he struggled through the Champions Trophy and bowled only 25 overs against New South Wales. Harmison also sat out the first match of the Australian tour against the Prime Minister's XI last Friday.

But with Simon Jones injured and captain Andrew Flintoff still regaining bowling fitness after ankle surgery, England desperately hope Harmison can play a major part in the series. "He had an effect in the Ashes last year," added Fletcher. "He's been an effective bowler for us and the other bowlers feed off him. We've just got to monitor the amount of balls he bowls because we've got to get some mileage in his legs."