Andrew Symonds has completed his first batting training session in St Vincent to give the defending champions hope he could be ready to face South Africa on March 24. Symonds, who is recovering from arm surgery, faced a tennis balls for ten minutes after feeling strong enough to start hitting a day early.
John Buchanan and Alex Kountouris, the physiotherapist, monitored the session that began with Symonds defending before he expaned to some attacking shots. "He has been using the bat against resistance with a bit of tubing in the rooms, so today we just thought we would get him out with a tennis ball," Kountouris told the Herald Sun. "It's not really that strenuous on his injured biceps so it wasn't much of a worry. It feels fine. The harder things are to come over the next week."
Symonds will increase his load to face cricket balls and start throwing in the lead-up to the South Africa game. "He has been doing all the right things now and it's looking really good," Kountouris said. "But only time will tell."
Australia start the tournament on March 14 with a game against Scotland and then face The Netherlands four days later. Kountouris' best-case planning involved Symonds appearing in the final group match against South Africa. "We are not locked into that, but between South Africa and probably the third Super Eight game," he said of Symonds' return. "If he doesn't make it for the South Africa game, it doesn't mean things have gone badly. It's just that we haven't had the courage to push it any harder."
The team will play its opening warm-up game against Zimbabwe on Tuesday and Michael Clarke is due to appear despite carrying soreness in his hip. With Symonds and Matthew Hayden injured and Adam Gilchrist expected back after paternity leave, Australia will have only 12 players to choose from.