England v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Old Trafford, 2nd day July 28, 2006

The injury jinx that won't go away

Steve Harmison will be reassessed in the morning © Getty Images
Another day, another set of injury scares for both England and Pakistan's cricketers, as the jinx that has pursued the teams since they last met in December shows no sign of abating.

Pakistan, already shorn of a trio of their potential opening bowlers in Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, looked set to launch their second innings without their only specialist opening batsman. But Imran Farhat, who sustained a dislocation and fracture to the third finger on his left hand while clinging onto a sharp catch in the gully, was unexpectedly strapped up and sent out to negotiate the four overs remaining in the day.

He did so bravely, but how much of that was owed to the worrying rib niggle that Stephen Harmison suffered in the first over of the innings? Harmison, who destroyed Pakistan on Thursday with figures of 6 for 19, bowled an outrageous wide that was fielded by Andrew Strauss at second slip, but England's laughter got stuck in their throats when he immediately clutched at his side, the same intercostal region that has forced Liam Plunkett to miss the rest of the series.

Though Kirk Russell, England's physio, instantly signalled for him to leave the field, Harmison carried on tentatively for the rest of the over, before being hauled off from his fielding position at fine leg as Russell was sent jogging round the boundary to retrieve him.

"Harmison has responded to treatment and will be reassessed in the morning," read an ECB statement issued at the close of play. "It is not as serious as first thought." Something similar will apply to another of England's jinxed Ashes veterans, Geraint Jones, who was hit on the right ring finger by Umar Gul and needed lengthy treatment out in the middle. "Jones's finger is still sore and he, too, will be reassessed in the morning," added the ECB.

Throw in the travails of Faisal Iqbal, who suffered a bruised hand when nailed by an Andrew Strauss pull shot on Thursday morning, and it is clear that the fates are against these two teams. For the moment, however, all four of the latest injured parties are still standing.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo