Tuesday 21 July 2009 

Ashes 2009: Australia Cautious Over Brett Lee Return

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The Australian team management have sounded a cautious note over the potential return to action of fast bowler Brett Lee.

Lee suffered a side injury during the England Lions warm-up match which ruled him out of the opening two Ashes Tests at Cardiff and Lord's and coach Tim Nielsen hinted that it would be a struggle to get him fully fit for the third Test at Edgbaston, which begins on 30th July.

Before that, Australia take on Northamptonshire in a tour match, which could give Lee the chance to get some overs under his belt.

We will see how we go,” Nielsen said. “We are progressing him. The positive thing is that in a tour game we do have the flexibility on how much we can bowl him or how much we don’t bowl him.

“He hasn’t bowled yet, so we just have to sit with the medical staff over the next few days and chat about how much we need to get into him and whether it is going to progress him to the stage where he could play in the third Test.

“My feeling is, if it is not going to mean he is available to play in the third Test match, we are going to have to be really careful about rushing him back.

“The injury that he has is a bowling-specific injury and history shows if you have those injuries again it tends to be six, eight, 10 weeks before they come right, if you actually re-tear the side.

“Two, three, or four overs in the nets is probably not enough to prove that he is right to go.

“If he had to bowl say 11 overs in a row, like Andrew Flintoff did yesterday, to win a Test match for us, we would want to be comfortable that he is strong and fit enough and able to do it.”

Lee last played for Australia in a Test match during the Boxing Day Test against South Africa and it has emerged this morning that England are also facing injury problems of their own.

Aside from the well-documented injuries to Kevin Pietersen (Achilles) and Andrew Flintoff (knee), it is understood that fast bowler Graham Onions has an elbow injury.

Pietersen will visit a specialist in the next seven days as he continues to battle against the injury which has dogged him for most of the summer.

With a ten-day gap between Tests, England will have plenty of time to assess the fitness of their players before deciding on their squad for the the third Test.

England lead the series 1-0 after they won by 115 runs at Lord's following the drawn opener at Cardiff.

© Cricket World 2009

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