Edgbaston nets could speed Shoaib's return

The news emanating from the subcontinent is as shrouded in mystery as any ball that has been bowled by Pakistani leg spinners down the years.

But if the Pakistan coach, Bob Woolmer, is to be believed then his strike bowler Shoaib Akhtar could be back in action earlier than had been thought.

Using his contacts at Edgbaston, Woolmer has arranged for Shoaib to use Warwickshire's training facilities and the Pakistan fast bowler, who is expected in England this weekend, will then play for a local club in order to test whether or not he has recovered from a stress fracture of his left ankle.

The news was confirmed yesterday by the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Shaharyar Khan, who said: "Shoaib will be training at Edgbaston and they will try to arrange a couple of club matches to help him come back from his injury."

Woolmer was optimistic about Shoaib's prospects of recovery, saying: "We're looking to get him going and - touch wood - he might be available for the third and fourth Tests,"

Shaharyar was less so. He said: "Shoaib will be training at Edgbaston," he said, "and they will try to arrange a couple of club matches to help him come back from his injury."

But he insisted that the earliest Shoaib could return to action would be for the fourth Test at the Oval on 17 to 21 August.

"Shoaib has been out of international cricket for quite some time and cannot just walk back in the squad," he said.

Shoaib, 30, who last played for Pakistan in the Karachi Test against India in January, has been dogged by knee and back problems and, after undergoing operations on both knees, has been out of action for the best part of five months.

He had been named in a provisional Pakistan squad for England earlier this summer, but was subsequently left out of the 16-man touring party after it was revealed that an ankle fracture, which he had suffered from earlier, had not healed.

From the tourists' point of view Shoaib cannot return to action fast enough. They certainly missed the potency that has brought 165 Test wickets - 17 of them in last winter's series between these two teams - as well as 199 one-day international wickets.

In fact, there has rarely been a time when Pakistan have not had a spearhead to their attack, and certainly not in the last 20 summers when the Test rubbers in England have been dominated by Pakistan.

Pakistan strike bowlers are rather like the Hydra. As one is scythed down so another appears, thus it was that when Imran Khan bowed out, up popped Waqar Younis, then Wasim Akram and then Shoaib.

And of course there has always been the prospect of some slow magic - specifically leg spin - if out-and-out hostility could not break through.

But that has all changed, albeit temporarily, which is why the England openers, Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick, were able to get the innings off to a smart start. At one point they were speeding along at seven runs an over, a rate that would have been all but unthinkable had Shoaib been sending down his venomous 90mph deliveries - and impossible with Waqar, Imran or Wasim in their pomp.

Even at the fall of the openers and the departure of Kevin Pietersen there was no pressing of the panic button by England, no sudden collapse. They knew that there was little out there to frighten them. As Alastair Cook and Paul Collingwood went on to prove as they turned Pakistan's early morning joy to an afternoon and early evening of toil in their record double-century partnership.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?