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from Left field:

Battle-weary Australia need Lee fit and in form

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brettleeAustralia 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.

from Left field:

Can England afford to call on fragile Flintoff again?

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cricketIn the end it wasn't about the two S's, Swann and swing, it came down to the two P's, patience and perseverance, as Australia's batsmen swept away England hopes of a 2-0 Ashes series lead by holding on for a draw at Edgbaston. The challenge for Australia and their batting line-up now is to perform like that in the first innings of a test to put pressure on England, and not just in the second when they need to save a game.

This match didn't get the denouement it deserved after the thrilling cricket played on Friday and Sunday, but mother nature can hold up her hand and take the blame for that. Just one more day's play could have provided an intriguing finish, but it wasn't to be.

from Left field:

Should England bring back Harmison for Lord’s?

I am probably not the only one arriving at work today with fingers gnawed to the bone following England's nail-biting escape in the first Ashes test in a stunning finale in Cardiff, capping a memorable opening match to the series.

Despite near domination for five days, Australia failed to capitalise on early England wickets on the final day as the Three Lions' tail wagged heroically to secure a draw from the jaws of defeat against the old enemy.

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