McGrath doubts fuelled by Clark call

On Sunday, McGrath bullishly stated that he had recovered from the elbow injury which kept him out of the fourth Test, and that he expected to be fit for the encounter at the Oval, which starts on Thursday.

Errol Alcott, the Australian physiotherapist, was cautious when he gave his assessment of McGrath's condition, and it now seems more than a coincidence that Clark has been asked to join the squad the day after McGrath tested his elbow out for the first time since Trent Bridge.

"With a decision yet to be made about Glenn McGrath's availability for the Test, we want to make sure that we have some cover and added flexibility heading into this match," said Trevor Hohns, Australia's chairman of selectors. "We have identified Stuart as a similar style of bowler to Glenn, and given he has been playing some solid cricket in England, it was felt that he was the most suitable inclusion." It is not the first time Clark has been asked to fulfil this role. Clark, an uncapped 29-year-old who is currently playing county cricket for Middlesex, travelled up to Manchester before the third Test as standby for McGrath and Brett Lee but both players came through late fitness tests to play in the match.

While the Australians monitor McGrath during today's practice session in south London, English eyes will be on Simon Jones, as he, too, attempts to prove his fitness. After limping off at Trent Bridge 10 days ago Jones has been wearing a protective boot on his injured right ankle. He has undergone a rigorous course of physiotherapy, which has included more than a dozen visits to a hyperbaric oxygen chamber at a London hospital and a couple of trips to the hydrotherapy unit at Arsenal's London Colney training ground.

Yet this afternoon, when he tentatively ambles up and turns his arm over, the 26 year-old will be given a good idea whether all the treatment and heartache has been worthwhile. The ankle will be sore - bony growths do not disappear overnight, unless they are operated on - but England will be hoping that Jones, with the aid of injections, anti-inflammatory tablets, strapping and a couple of chewy bullets, will play and bowl with the same intent as he has in the previous four Tests.

The only definite decision that could come out of today's workout would be a negative one. If Jones feels similar discomfort to that in Nottingham then England will be forced to declare him unfit. Even if he comes through the session relatively pain-free England will still have to wait until the morning after before they can begin to feel optimistic.

In a game of this importance England need to know Jones can bowl three spells in a day, and then turn up on the next day and bowl more. Ultimately, the final decision will come down to the bowler. Only he will know whether he can get through the match and bowl 30 to 40 overs.

For a player this is an awful position to be in. You want to play. Your team wants you to play. Yet you owe it to them to be honest and not selfish. If you hobble off injured after four overs, you will have done nobody any favours, and it will be you who cops the greatest amount of flak.

Jones' figures - 18 wickets at an average of 21 - give an indication of how much he has troubled the Australians, but they tell only half the story. His ability to swing the new and the old ball has provided Michael Vaughan with a constant cutting edge, but it is the pressure he and his fast bowling team-mates have been able to put on Australia which has caused the tourists to crumble. Pressure is the ingredient that takes most wickets in Test cricket. It is why McGrath and Shane Warne regularly bowl in tandem.

James Anderson and Paul Collingwood will be watching Jones the closest because one of them will play if he is unfit. Anderson would come closer to filling the hole, and the selectors will be scrutinising the fast bowler when he bowls in the nets. If Anderson bowls well he is the likelier replacement; if not, Collingwood will enter the fray.

Justin Langer highlighted how far England's bowling has come when he compared it to the great West Indian attack of the early Nineties. "England do not yet possess bowlers of the quality of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, who are all-time greats, but they certainly have a similar style," said Langer. "They create relentless pressure and it is hard to score runs."

Suggested Topics
News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Extras
indybest
News
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor