The Ashes, 2006-07 November 22, 2006

Bell expected to play after injury scare

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Ian Bell batted in the nets a day after suffering a wrist injury © Getty Images

Ian Bell, England's designated No. 3 batsman, is expected to be passed fit for the first Test at Brisbane tomorrow, after coming through a practice session 24 hours after being struck a painful blow on the left wrist. An ECB statement said that a final decision would be made on the morning of the match.

Bell, who had been batting in the nets against James Anderson, was given ice treatment and taken away for a precautionary X-ray, which revealed heavy bruising but no fracture.

England had been optimistic all along that the injury was nothing serious. "It would be a blow [if he missed out]," admitted Andrew Strauss yesterday, "but we are talking about hypotheticals. From what I've seen it won't prevent him playing. The nets had a little bit of extra bounce, but they are very, very good, probably the best we've seen this tour."

If Bell was to be ruled out, then Strauss's Middlesex team-mate, Ed Joyce, would be thrust into the starting line-up, just days since arriving in the country as a replacement for Marcus Trescothick.

"For me, Ed's greatest strength is his ability to keep a cool head under pressure," said Strauss. "So, if there's any guy I know who'll be well set to make a debut, it's him. It's a big ask, but everyone know's he's a quality player. Even so, we're very hopeful that Ian's going to play."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo