Cricket: England confident of Tufnell's presence

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The Independent Online
PHIL TUFNELL should be available for England's first tour match in Antigua this weekend despite an injury scare yesterday.

The Middlesex left-arm spinner was examined by a local specialist after complaining of pain in his bowling shoulder. But the England physio, Dave Roberts, is confident that a cortisone injection given to Tufnell yesterday afternoon will quickly clear the problem.

'It's a wear-and-tear type injury that only affects his throwing, not his bowling,' Roberts said. 'Phil had the same trouble two years ago and a cortisone injection sorted it out.'

Tufnell will rest for 48 hours, then resume bowling in the nets and, provided he can throw without discomfort on Sunday, will be considered for the four-day game against an Antiguan XI.

Viv Richards, the former West Indies captain, ran his experienced eye over England as they practised on Antigua's Test ground yesterday and said: 'England's build-up for this series has been better then ours.

'They had a good rest and then started preparing themselves mentally and physically for the gruelling time to come.

'But I fear perhaps the West Indies team might be tired. That's the only thing that could make us vulnerable.'

But after predicting 'the series will be much closer than a lot of people think', Richards put a dampener on growing English optimism with just one name: Curtly Ambrose, the giant Antiguan fast bowler who has a magnificent strike record.

Of Ambrose's 193 Test wickets, 70 of them have been English - at a cost of just 18.74 runs apiece.

'Overall Malcolm Marshall was properly the pick of our crop in my time but Curtly has done the business for us when we've really needed it time and time again,' Richards said. 'He's got the biggest heart of the lot and he can inspire anyone in the team.'