The Reuters global sports blog
Battle-weary Australia need Lee fit and in form
Australia have far more limited options than England when they consider changes to their
battle-weary side for the fourth Ashes test starting on Friday at Headingley, with their main hope of fresh impetus resting on the fitness of Brett Lee.
England had the luxury of bringing in fresh blood on Tuesday, calling up fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom and uncapped batsman Jonathan Trott for the first time this series, while again putting Steve Harmison on standby in a 14-man squad.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting expects to be able to call on Lee for the first time this series, after the quick bowler missed the first three tests with a rib injury.
Seamer Stuart Clark could be another option, possibly at the expense of Peter Siddle but otherwise the skipper has little to juggle with ahead of a match they cannot afford to lose, with England already 1-0 up with two to play.
“We will keep a close eye on Brett and I would expect him to be able to bowl,” Ponting said after the third test draw in Edgbaston. “We know what Stuart is capable of and we will have plenty to talk about.”
Australia are again likely to be without first-choice wicket-keeper Brad Haddin again after he pulled out of the Edgbaston test with a finger injury but Ponting remained bullish.
“If we play our best cricket we will take some beating,” he said.
PHOTO: Brett Lee reacts to the crowd as he delivers drinks during the fourth day of the third Ashes test against England at Edgbaston in Birmingham, August 2, 2009. REUTERS/Darren Staples