Cricket: Chance for Tudor to shine

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S FOUR injury doubts have checked in fit for today's match against South Australia.

The captain, Alec Stewart, and his predecessor, Michael Atherton, who withdrew from last week's drawn match with Western Australia with a stiff back and bruised hip respectively, have both recovered. And Mark Butcher is now fully healed from the nasty head injury he sustained batting at the WACA last Sunday.

Mark Ramprakash, who is expected to face stiff competition from John Crawley for the sixth batting place in the Ashes series, has also shrugged off the cold which prevented him practising yesterday.

The four-day match at the Adelaide Oval, starting today, is England's penultimate warm-up before the first Test in Brisbane. Darren Gough and Alan Mullally, the pick of England's bowlers in Perth, are rested to allow young fast bowler Alex Tudor to make his first-class debut for his country with Dean Headley completing the seam attack alongside Dominic Cork and Angus Fraser.

The off-spinner Robert Croft is also rested. This gives Peter Such his first appearance since conceding 67 runs in nine overs in the opening one-run victory over an ACB Chairman's XI at Lilac Hill a week ago.

But the all-rounder Ben Hollioake, who pulled his groin scoring 28 in the same match, has failed to shrug off his injury. That leaves him needing an impressive performance in next week's match against Queensland in Cairns to press his claims for selection at the Gabba on November 20.

The tour manager, Graham Gooch, yesterday admitted that both Cork and Fraser, disappointing in Perth, needed more match practice, while Tudor had earned his selection after consistent performances during net practice.

"Both Cork and Gus would admit they need another run out, and they need some bowling under their belts," said Gooch. "This is a good opportunity for Tudor, and a chance for him to play.

"We have brought him on this tour for some experience, but he is not going to spend all his time on the sidelines. We have been impressed with his attitude and he has been bowling well in the nets. This game is all part of the learning curve for him," added Gooch.