September 3, 2002

Trescothick, Irani hoping for full fitness by Thursday

Marcus Trescothick believes he is a likely starter in the fourth and final Test against India at The AMP Oval on Thursday, despite palying in just two one-day games since breaking his thumb in a G&G match at Taunton six weeks ago.

Trescothick was speaking after a net session against a bowling machine delivering at up to 85mph.

"If I was pushed I would say I'm more likely to play than not," he said. "There were a couple of balls from Matthew Hoggard in Saturday's C&G Final which I felt, but it's been like that in nearly every net session.

"Once you get through the pain barrier it seems to be all right. It is a mental barrier for me to get over - it was a bad break and it's all a question of me getting over it because it's mainly a confidence thing.

"We cranked up the bowling machine at just short of a length because playing off the back foot is when it causes me the most problems, but the more I practice, the happier I feel about batting."

Meanwhile the Essex all-rounder Ronnie Irani is hoping to convince the selectors that he is fully recovered from surgery to his right knee, after being given the all-clear by a specialist in Munich.

"If I had even a small percentage of doubt I wouldn't be here, Irani said. "You can't risk your international career - this is a big game and you've got to bust a gut to make sure everyone is fit and ready, but I wouldn't be able to take that chance.

"It would be wrong for me as an individual and it would be wrong for the England set-up and I can't afford for that to happen and that's why I went yesterday to Munich, I've done everything I possibly could to test whether I'm fit for this match."

Irani's last England appearance was on the same ground three years ago, when England lost to New Zealand to go down 2-1 in the series.

That match in 1999 was really hard and a major disappointment to everyone involved," he admitted. "If that had been my last Test, it would have been a dreadful memory to keep.

"Nasser made a bit of a joke about it the other day, talking about ghosts to lay and it does bring it home about how tough it was that day in 1999.

"I remember Nasser getting a bad reception on the balcony and all memories like that stay in your mind, but this is another Test with a lot riding on this game."