The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Smith doubtful starter
- South Africa skipper says team learned from England loss

Manchester: South Africa captain Graeme Smith could miss Thursday’s tri-series match against England at Old Trafford with a shoulder injury.

The 22-year-old fell awkwardly on his left shoulder while trying to take a catch running back in South Africa’s 46-run win over Zimbabwe at Canterbury on Sunday. He took no part in training at Old Trafford on Wednesday and a decision on the left-handed opening batsman’s fitness for the day/night encounter will be delayed until Thursday morning.

Smith said on Wednesday: “I am carrying a bit of a shoulder injury. I am optimistic about playing but I don’t know if the physio is. It (the injury) has definitely come on a lot since Monday. If I do play, I’ll be playing in pain, but I’m ready to give 100 per cent.

“I’d like to play every game but it is a long tour,” added Smith ahead of South Africa’s five Test series against England. “The good thing with the shoulder injury is there is not much more damage that can be done.”

South Africa went down by six-wickets in their opening tri-series match against England at The Oval on Saturday. And they are now three points behind both England and Zimbabwe in the table after their rivals’ match at Headingley on Tuesday was washed out and declared a no-result, the teams sharing three points each.

But Smith insisted he attached no greater importance to Thursday’s match than any other. “Every game is a big game for us.” He also said his team had learnt lessons from their defeat to England where they were on the receiving end of a blistering assault by openers Marcus Trescothick (114 not out) and Vikram Solanki (106).

“We didn’t get our bowling disciplines right. Credit to them, they really played well. But everything they did came off for them. On another day they might have given a catch. Maybe our guys felt a little bit of pressure, with a big crowd and it being the first game against England. There were a lot of nerves.

“But after the first 15 overs against Zimbabwe our bowling and fielding started to come good.” South Africa have called up fast-medium bowler Andre Nel into their squad. Nel, 26 later this month, had been playing for Northamptonshire.

But he will be unavailable for Thursday’s match because that fixture will see him complete a six-game ban imposed after he was arrested on a drink-driving charge in Tasmania in April during a South Africa A tour of Australia.

Harmison released

England have released strike bowler Steve Harmison from their squad.

Harmison will play for his County side Durham in a four-day game against Worcester starting on Wednesday, ruling him out of England’s next match against South Africa at Old Trafford on Thursday. (Reuters)

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