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August 1, 2009
Australia's bowling stocks could receive a much-needed boost with Brett Lee eyeing a return in next week's fourth Test following a rib injury. Lee's comeback from ankle surgery was interrupted when he suffered the problem during a tour game before the opening Test in Cardiff, but he has been operating off an abbreviated run-up in the nets for a week and is growing in confidence.
"I want to be going flat out by day five here, so I've got two more days to go," he told CA TV. "I had a really good bowl today, I'll go a little bit harder tomorrow, then hard on the fifth day and hopefully be back to full pace then."
Australia's attack has been below its best in this series and has suffered from the absence of the real Mitchell Johnson. While Johnson has taken eight wickets, his line and length have been inconsistent and the England batsmen have enjoyed his fare while taking a 1-0 lead.
Despite the problems, Australia's selectors have kept faith in the Johnson-Siddle-Hilfenhaus combination, but that will change if Lee can prove his fitness. "I've been bowling now for over a week, purely off about two or three steps," Lee said. "The second last session, today's session, was the first time I tried to let the ball go at over 50%. I got up to 65-70%, maybe 80% on a couple of balls."
The selectors would prefer Lee was trialled in a tour match, but there are only three days between the Edgbaston game and the fourth Test in Headingley, which starts next Friday. "It's just a matter now of making sure the rib feels okay," he said. "It feels good so far so we'll just see how it goes."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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