Seamer Tim Bresnan will not be available against an ICC Combined XI Dubai Sports City’s GCA ground today, the first of two marm-up matches before their three-match series against Pakistan.
Bresnan has experienced discomfort in his right elbow following surgery a month ago. His absence might have opened the door for Chris Tremlett, but he may have to sit out the three-day match too, because of an eye infection.
Speaking about Bresnan, England captain Andrew Strauss said: “In an ideal world, he’d be ready by now,” he said. “But as is always the case with operations, you can’t be 100 per cent sure how the recuperation is going to go.”
The key date now for Bresnan is next Wednesday, when England face a Pakistan Cricket Board XI, with the first Test looming on 17 January. In the meantime, he must watch the likes of Steve Finn try to jump above him in the England pecking order.
Strauss does not entirely subscribe to the theory that Bresnan must play against the PCB XI to be involved at the start of the Test series, but it will be at odds with England’s meticulous preparation to thrust him straight in without match practice.
“We’re very optimistic, because it’s certainly shown a lot of signs of calming down,” the captain said of Bresnan’s injury. “We hope he’ll be able to play in that second warm-up game. I wouldn’t rule anything in or out, but it will obviously be quite important he gets a lot of bowling under his belt to prove he’s okay.”
Before then, Tremlett, who might still have got the nod ahead of Finn in a three-man seam attack, seems likely to miss his chance. “We’ll probably just wait and see how he is a bit later on,” added Strauss. “But at this stage, we’ve got to take a slightly precautionary route on these sorts of things and, thankfully, we’ve got some fairly strong bowling resources.”
As for the task facing England here, today and beyond, Strauss reports conditions largely as envisaged. “It looks a bit slower and lower than in England, so the bowlers will have to work a bit harder – but that’s why they get paid the big bucks,” he said.
“There is a great deal of enthusiasm and motivation to get amongst it, having had a good time off. We recognise the importance of making sure we get our intensity right, from the first ball that’s bowled in this tour.”