Cricket: Injuries to Gough and Headley cloud Test build-up

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND FACE a worrying lead up to the first Test after Dean Headley and Darren Gough failed to shrug off injuries ahead of the important opening first-class match against a Combined Western Province/Boland XI that starts at Newlands today.

Neither featured in Tuesday's 19-run one-day victory over Easterns at Benoni after Gough suffered stiffness following his first match since July against Nicky Oppenheimer's XI the previous day and Headley limped out of the same game with a back spasm. With just three weeks until the opening Test against South Africa at The Wanderers, England's two leading bowlers from last winter's Ashes tour have only two more first-class matches to find form and fitness.

Both were clearly restricted during yesterday's net session at Newlands and their unavailability has foiled plans for England to field their strongest possible line-up in an attempt to gain confidence for the Test.

"Darren Gough is still stiff after his bowling stint on Monday and Dean Headley is still recovering from his back spasm, but we're confident they will be available for the next two four-day matches," said Duncan Fletcher, the England coach.

The tourists will now have to rely on an attack featuring Alan Mullally and Andrew Caddick but supplemented by Alex Tudor, who has bowled only 11.2 overs since sustaining a knee problem last July. Yorkshire's Gavin Hamilton has also been selected, but he was wayward during the opening two matches and Andrew Flintoff of Lancashire is also in the 12-man squad despite his back problems which restricted him from bowling against Easterns. At yesterday's nets his bowling was half pace at best.

ENGLAND (from): M A Atherton (Lancashire), M A Butcher (Surrey), N Hussain (Essex, capt), M P Vaughan (Yorkshire), A J Stewart (Surrey, wkt), C J Adams (Sussex), D L Maddy (Leicestershire), G M Hamilton (Yorkshire), A J Tudor (Surrey), A R Caddick (Somerset), A D Mullally (Hampshire), A Flintoff (Lancashire).

Combined Western Province/Boland XI (from): J M Henderson, R Magiet, L J Koen (capt), H D Ackerman, A G Prince, J L Ontong, S J Palframan (wkt), C W Henderson, R Telemachus, D M Koch, C M Willoughby, K C Jackson.

n England A were forced to settle for a draw in their four-day match with Bangladesh in Dhaka yesterday. The tourists, in a strong position after enforcing the follow-on, were denied by Khaled Mashud, who made an 105no and led his team to a 62-run lead when the game was brought to an end.