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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
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

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines