England decide to play safe with Jones

By Myles Hodgson
Saturday 14 December 2013 05:35
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England chose against giving fast bowler Simon Jones his comeback game in today's traditional opening match of the Ashes series against an ACB Chairman's XI at Lilac Hill.

The Glamorgan paceman has struggled with a side strain since making his debut against India at Lord's in July and is yet to bowl at full capacity since England's arrival in Perth.

The tourists' management thought about including him for the festival match but instead decided to give him more rest although they are allowed to use bowlers outside the XI as part of their build-up.

It could mean Jones and the Yorkshire off-spinner Richard Dawson, who has also been overlooked for the starting line-up, bowling a few overs to help reduce the pressure on England's only four recognised bowlers – Ashley Giles, Andrew Caddick, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard.

Alec Stewart was given the gloves for his return to the ground where he featured for many years playing grade cricket for Midland Guildford, but his understudy James Foster has also been included as a batsman.

England's main bowling spearhead Darren Gough was omitted as he continues his rehabilitation following his lengthy lay-off with knee problems although he was bowling at nearly full pace during nets at the WACA yesterday.

Michael Vaughan is still recovering from knee surgery, while the all-rounder Andrew Flintoff was similarly left out following his hernia operation at the end of the summer.

"When we arrived on Friday it was the first time I'd run on the knee and it was very sore, but over the past 48 hours it's improved tremendously," said Vaughan. "The plan was to run for the first time in Australia and I probably ran a day too soon after the long flight and it affected me a little bit, but everything is going to schedule. I was always going to miss the first game, but hopefully I'll be fit for the second."

That would put him on course to return for the two-day match against Western Australia at the WACA starting on Thursday and giving him two more three-day games to recover his match sharpness before he faces Australia for the first time at the Gabba in the first Test on 7 November.

Vaughan has already missed the ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka and is determined to be right for this campaign after missing last year's Ashes series because of a knee operation.

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