The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Australia keen on getting back to winning ways

Hobart: Star Australian paceman Glenn McGrath was confident he will be fit for Saturday’s triangular series match against England.

McGrath, who has been out with a side strain, said Friday it was tough watching Australia lose the fifth Ashes Test and the one-dayer against Sri Lanka from the sidelines. “I just can’t wait to get back out there,” he said.

McGrath said he was “90 per cent-plus fit and feeling pretty good.” But the team management was to wait until they saw how he pulled up following another testing workout before deciding on his availability. “If it’s going the way it has from the last few bowls I’ve had, yes, I’m confident,” McGrath said.

However selectors, who also have worries about Darren Lehmann’s fitness, will wait until till the eleventh hour before finalising the team.

The last thing they want is to risk McGrath a month ahead of the World Cup.

Captain Ricky Ponting said Lehmann was still feeling tired and rundown. “He had a couple of days rest and we’ll see how he pulls up in the morning,” Ponting said.

England, on the other hand, concerned over star batsman Michael Vaughan’s knee and shoulder and fast bowler Steve Harmison’s shin splints, will also wait till Saturday to name their team.

Captain Nasser Hussain is anxious to slot in Vaughan into the top three of the one-day side. The in-form batsman has always batted at four or lower for England and Yorkshire in one-dayers.

“We would like to bat him in the top three, definitely,” Hussain said. “When he is the number two batsman in the world, there’s no point hiding him down the order.”

But with the World Cup just around the corner, Vaughan and Harmison would be treated very carefully, he said.

Hussain did not seem surprised at Sri Lanka’s stunning show Wednesday at Sydney when they thrashed the Aussies by 79 runs.

“Though they looked down and out after their defeat against Australia in Adelaide, the Lankans have a much better batting line-up than their recent statistics suggested,” Hussain opined.

Ponting was still smarting from the heavy loss.

“That game was disappointing,” he said. “It was not really an Australian team that took the field. Our performance was not up to the high expectations we have and we have spoken about that and will speak about it again to ensure that we are a better side Saturday.”

He agreed fatigue to be a factor. “I would be lying if I said some of the guys weren’t a little bit tired,” he said.

In that regard, McGrath’s enforced rest may be a blessing in disguise. He was able to have a rest, work on his fitness and spend more time with his family.

“Even though it’s been negative in one way, I’ve taken the positives out of it,” he said.

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