Tremlett misses tour of Pakistan after failed fitness test

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The Independent Online

England added Liam Plunkett, a rookie fast bowler from Durham, to their 17-man Test squad when Simon Jones was forced to withdraw from the tour with an injury to his right ankle, but the selectors do not intend to name a replacement for Tremlett, reducing the size of the touring party to 16.

Tremlett and Jones will now spend the next two months resting, rehabilitating and hoping that their injuries will have recovered in time to gain selection for England's tour of India, which starts in March 2006.

Tremlett has spent most of the summer nursing hamstring tendinitis behind his right knee and during the past week he has been put through a strenuous fitness programme at the National Academy in Loughborough. But the towering 24-year-old has failed to convince the England selectors that his body is strong enough to cope with the workload that would be asked of him.

"It's sad that Chris has not been able to develop his training to the desired level of fitness for the Pakistan tour, particularly as this would have been his first international tour with the England team," said David Graveney, the England and Wales Cricket Board's chairman of selectors. "I know how much he was looking forward to representing his country abroad, but I've no doubt we can look forward to many positives from Chris once he has made a full recovery.

"The initial Test tour party was set at 17 players in order to provide sufficient seam bowling cover and taking into account the recent injuries to Simon Jones and Chris Tremlett. With this in mind we don't feel the need to replace Chris now that he has been ruled out of the tour.

"Obviously we hope that the seam bowlers selected remain fit throughout the tour but should the need arise for any further inclusions to the squad due to injury, we have a number of suitable options available within the National Academy set-up. At the conclusion of the team's closed training camp next week the selectors will decide on replacements for the touring one-day squad."

The loss of Tremlett is unlikely to change the England captain Michael Vaughan's plans, but it is a major setback for the Hampshire seamer. Tremlett was not expected to play in England's strongest side but his ongoing injury problems are becoming a worry.

When he is fit and firing, Tremlett is a real handful. His height - 6ft 7in - allows him to extract steep bounce from pitches, and in the three one-day internationals that he played against Bangladesh and Australia this summer, he gave a glimpse of what he is capable. Indeed, it encouraged the selectors to name him in four of England's Ashes Test squads.

But, as of yet, he has not been able to play often enough to groove his bowling action to the standard required at the highest level. Tremlett may have bags of potential but he needs to bowl without injury for a season or two if his bowling is to become smooth and consistent. England's selectors will rightly show faith in him but "injury prone" is a tag no young fast bowler wants.

l Sourav Ganguly was replaced as India captain yesterday, with his long-time deputy Rahul Dravid chosen to lead the side in two home one-day series. Ganguly, 33, captain for the past five years, had been under pressure because of poor batting form and is nursing a tennis elbow injury.

But the Indian board secretary Karunakaran Nair said: "As far as Ganguly is concerned... he has every right to come back into the Indian team after he proves he is fit."