Tremlett heads for home as Strauss and Harmison boost England

What is it with the England Test team, can't these fellas stay fit? For four weeks the one-day side flung itself around the outfields of New Zealand without suffering discomfort or injury, but when pristine whites replace the blue uniforms the dressing room suddenly begins to resemble a scene from M.A.S.H.

Fortunately for England most of the complaints, with the exception of Chris Tremlett who will return home before the first Test after re-aggravating the side strain he sustained last weekend, have been nothing more than aches and niggles. But it is still far from reassuring when three of the probable Test side are in regular dialogue with the physiotherapist. Matthew Hoggard paid him a visit too yesterday after leaving the field with an upset stomach.

Paul Collingwood was the latest regular to limp from play after injuring his right hamstring on the opening day of England's three-day match against a New Zealand Selection XI. The ailment is reported to be as severe as Ryan Sidebottom's hamstring injury, a grade one tear, but both are expected to be fit for Tuesday's first Test in Hamilton. Collingwood would have batted yesterday had he been needed.

Despite these ongoing concerns England had an encouraging day here in Dunedin with Stephen Harmison, who has been complaining of a stiff lower back since arriving in New Zealand, and Andrew Strauss producing performances that should guarantee them places in the first Test. Harmison took 5 for 100 as England bowled the Selection XI out for 271, while Strauss finished the second day unbeaten on 55.

Strauss and Kevin Pietersen, who struck his second half-century of the game, allowed England to erase their first-innings deficit, but more runs are required from the middle order if they are to avoid an embarrassing defeat. Strauss batted with calmness and skill and his 50 was warmly greeted by England's dressing room. Strauss has been working on playing straighter since being dropped after the English summer.

The 30-year-old felt he was planting his front foot too far in the direction of off stump when playing forward, an error that caused him to play around his front pad. Now he does not move his right foot so far from leg to off, an alteration that makes it easier for him to get his bat at a straight ball. A glorious straight drive down the ground for four suggested that the left-hander's practice was paying off. Strauss, a specialist opener, was again in early after Vaughan edged a good ball from Mark Gillespie through to the keeper. The England captain will spend the next four days trying to find form in the nets. Alastair Cook wasted another chance for good practice when he top-edged a hook to square leg, and it was left to Strauss and Pietersen to ensure that England avoided a two-day defeat.

The selectors played Tremlett here as a possible replacement for Harmison in case the big man failed to perform well enough, and had he not injured his side he may well have played in Hamilton. His aim now will be to be fit for Hampshire at the start of the season.

Harmison's fortune changed in the fourth over of a 10-over spell when Grant Elliott gloved a leg-sided catch to wicketkeeper, Tim Ambrose. The very next ball bowled Mark Orchard but the hat-trick delivery harmlessly passed through to Ambrose. Bevan Griggs and Jeetan Patel each edged a catch through to the keeper to give Harmison what should have been a confidence boosting five-wicket haul.

Yet at the press conference Harmison, did not seem totally convinced by his performance. "My bowling has got marginally better the more and more I have bowled," he said. "I enjoyed it, and to get a five-wicket haul was great. There were some quick balls, some good balls and some bad balls.

"Lengthy spells seem to be helping me but I don't know how far away I am from where I want to be. I tried a few things out throughout my spell, things I had been working on with Ottis Gibson [England's bowling coach] but there was an element of trial and error. I am the sort of bowler who takes time to get used to being in a different country.

"I will just keep working at it, trying hard and hopefully it will continue to get better and better." Selectors, make what you can from that.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Manchester City's Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own