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November 9, 2013
'Injury cloud over England'
England have suffered an injury scare 12 days before the first Ashes Test in Brisbane after wicketkeeper Matt Prior was unable to take the field with his team-mates in Hobart due to a calf problem, which will require a scan.
Prior batted when the match resumed after two days of rain, falling lbw when trying to sweep the left-arm spinner Jon Holland after making 26. However he did not reappear in the middle for the Australia A innings, undergoing treatment for what the ECB described as a "tight left calf".
Andy Flower, England's team director, said that it was too early to determine how serious the injury was but was hopeful about Prior's fitness for the Ashes opener. England travel to Sydney on Sunday, with only one more four-day match, against an Invitational XI, before the Test series begins.
"He's tweaked something in his calf, we're not sure of the extent of it yet. He will have to have a scan," Flower said. "He didn't make it much worse, he was off soon after he tweaked it. I don't think it's anything too serious, it shouldn't keep him out of the first Test.
"Just from what I've seen, I would imagine he'd be okay for that first Test. But I hope I'm not speaking out of turn there. He's moving around okay ... I don't think it's linked to the Achilles problem [he has had]. His experience is very valuable to us. However, if he's injured and unavailable, Bairstow will step in. He is a very good young cricketer, and will bring his own qualities to the England side."
Joe Root kept wicket in Prior's place, with the reserve gloveman Jonny Bairstow not in the playing eleven. Root kept despite Australia A raising no objections when England requested whether or not Bairstow could substitute for Prior - an agreement that was overruled by the umpires as the game's laws now prohibit it.
"Our reserve wicketkeeper is Jonny Bairstow, but the rules of first-class cricket are quite black-and-white and don't allow a substitute fielder to take the field as wicketkeeper," Flower said. "So Jonny couldn't do it. Root took over, and I thought he did a really good job. He looked a natural.
"He takes on any challenge with a smile on his face, and also no mean skill. It's not an easy thing to do at all, and he handled himself really well out there. I was surprised. But he's a natural ball-player, and I think he had a bit of fun as well."
Bairstow instead batted in the nets and could find himself promoted to play in the final tour match in Sydney - although Flower suggested that England would prefer to field that same top seven intended for Brisbane. Bairstow played in the first four Tests against Australia during the English summer but only made one half-century and has since been a familiar face as 12th man.
As for the loss of more than half the match to rain, Flower said his side had taken as much as they could from the time available, pointing out that most players had some involvement in the game on day four. "There's nothing you can do about bad weather. It's a pity - it is what it is - but I think we made the most of what time we've been allowed in the middle," Flower said. "It was nice to see Cook and Carberry get heavy runs, forming a great partnership on that first day.
"It was a very impressive knock here [from Carberry], as it was in Perth. He left well, and looked very organised and comfortable with his game. Root went on to get an unbeaten 50 or so out there today, and played very positively; then our bowlers had a little run-out, a couple of spells each.
"Swann had his first bowl on tour, so we got what we could out of the game. Whatever happens - even if there are weather problems in Sydney - we will make sure we are ready for that first day in Brisbane."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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