Rain denies Katich time in the middle

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The Independent Online

Sussex 355-4 dec Australia 86-2

His team-mates might have had to spend much of yesterday confined to quarters by the frequent and heavy showers that drenched the County Ground, but Australia's captain Steve Waugh had work to do.

Although he is out of next week's fourth test at Headingley, Waugh is determined that the calf injury he sustained in the second innings at Trent Bridge will not prevent him from returning to lead his team in the final match of the series at The Oval in 13 days' time.

Waugh, who discarded his crutches two days after sustaining the injury, has been working flat-out with the touring party's medical team to get fit, devoting 12 hours a day to receiving intensive physiotherapy and massage, interspersed with hydrotherapy sessions in the team's hotel swimming pool and work on the exercise bike.

While the self-imposed deadline looks impossible, Waugh's chances cannot be written off. Two years ago in Sri Lanka, after he collided with Jason Gillespie in the field and suffered a badly broken nose, Waugh defied doctors' orders and played in the next Test just 10 days later, thus denying Simon Katich his debut.

This time it looks as if Katich will finally get his chance. The left-hander is the favourite to replace Waugh at Headingley, ahead of Justin Langer, whose form has been very thin.

Katich needs time in the middle though, which he did not get yesterday. When play resumed in mid-afternoon Michael Slater and Mark Waugh knocked off 67 runs in just 55 minutes, a spell that was not without incident. Waugh attempted a hook and top edged it, but in the gusting wind the ball totally wrong-footed the luckless fielder Billy Taylor.

The comical upshot was Taylor diving right and the ball landing well to his left. That was in the over before tea. The rain then set in and play was abandoned for the day, leaving the tourists 269 runs adrift and next man in Katich kicking his heels in frustration.