Cricket: Illott runs into more injury problems

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President's XI .........255-3

v England A Mark Ilott faces a worrying 24 hours after breaking down with a side injury in Madras, India yesterday.

Ilott was forced off the field for treatment after tea as England A fought hard in draining heat to contain a Board President's XI to 255 for 3 on a perfect batting pitch.

Phil Neale, the England A manager, said: "Mark's strain is not an intercostal problem, which was obviously our original worry, because the muscle affected is lower down on his right side."

Illott, the Essex left-arm paceman, hopes to be fit enough to bowl again in the match, but the physiotherapist, Wayne Morton, is waiting until today before saying whether he will allow the player to take the field. Ilott is desperate for his career not to be upset once again by injury.

The 24-year-old played three Tests in 1993 and had an outstanding A tour of South Africa last winter, but a niggling groin injury flared up badly last summer to deny Ilott a Test comeback.

He was in the England 13 for the first Test against New Zealand in June, but missed out of the next Test at Lord's because of the injury - Northamptonshire's Paul Taylor getting a call-up instead.

But by the time he was fit again, Darren Gough and Phil DeFreitas had established themselves in the England seam attack.

Yesterday he struck an early blow with the new ball after captain Alan Wells had condemned his side to a day in the field by losing the toss. But then Vikran Rathore (59) and classy left-hander Saurav Ganguly (69) added 92, forcing the A team back on thedefensive.

Leg spinner Ian Salisbury then teamed up with Min Patel to put England back in the game.

Salisbury took two for 33 from 17 overs, bowling right through from lunch to tea, while Kent slow left-armer Patel's 14-over afternoon spell cost only 30 runs.

(First day; President's won toss)

Board President's- First innings: V Rathore c Johnson b Salisbury 59

A V Mehra lbw b Ilott 8

S C Ganguly c and b Salisbury 69

R Dravid not out 72

R Shamshad not out 31

Extras (b4, lb3, nb8, W1) 16

Total (for 3, 93 overs) 255

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-117, 3-160

Bowling: Ilott 12-3-27-1; Johnson 10-1-29-0; Gallian 8-1-44-0; Cork 14-3-36-0; Salisbury 26-6-65-2; Patel 23-8-47-0.

England A: N V Knight, M P Vaughan, J E R Gallian, *A P Wells, D L Hemp D G Cork, K J Piper , I D K Salisbury, R L Johnson, M C Illott, M M Patel.