Teams Manage Fitness Concerns Ahead Of Ashes

Michael Clarke, Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen (left) will have an injection in his knee but Michael Clarke is making better progress
©REUTERS / Action Images

Both Australia and England continue to face challenges in making sure their key players are fit for the first Ashes Test, with Michael Clarke and Kevin Pietersen among those being monitored.

Clarke's troublesome back injury, which forced him to miss the tour of India, has been managed well enough for him to play two Sheffield Shield games, although he will sit out this week's round.

Pietersen, however, will fly to Melbourne for a cortisone injection in his knee as England battle to keep him fit for their final warm-up game, which begins on 13th November.

Wicket-keeper Matthew Prior faces a scan on a calf injury he picked up during the match against Australia 'A'.

Meanwhile, there is better news for Australia, who not only expect Shane Watson to be fully fit but have confirmed that fast bowlers Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle are also fit.

Speaking about Clarke, Harris and Siddle, Australia coach Darren Lehmann said: "We’re very pleased with Michael’s preparation ahead of the first Test. The plan for his Ashes build-up was to play two Sheffield Shield matches, which he has done successfully. He has spent valuable time in the middle batting and fielding.

"Importantly his back has coped well in both matches, but we will continue to take a sensible and cautious approach to managing him.  As part of his preparation for the first Test, he will go to Brisbane for training.

"On the fast bowling front, Ryan and Peter are both in great condition. As part of their management plan they will continue their preparation under the guidance national coaching staff in Brisbane over the coming days."

Australia name their squad for the first Test, which begins in Brisbane on 21st November, on Tuesday.

© Cricket World 2013

Fixtures & Results

21st-25th November: 1st Test, Gabba, Brisbane
AUS 295 & 401-7d. beat ENG 136 & 179 by 381 runs
5th-9th December: 2nd Test, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
AUS 570-9d & 132-3d beat ENG 172 & 312 by 218 runs
13th-17th December: 3rd Test, WACA, Perth
AUS 385 & 369-8 d. beat ENG 251 & 353 by 150 runs
26th-30th December: 4th Test, MCG, Melbourne
AUS 204 & 231-2 beat ENG 255 & 179 by 8 wickets
3rd-7th January: 5th Test, SCG, Sydney
AUS 326 & 274 beat ENG 155 & 166 by 281 runs