Harmison fit, Giles optimistic

England fast bowler Steve Harmison is ready for a comeback after the shin injury which has kept him out of all cricket since the second of England’s three Tests in India. He missed out on a place in Durham’s lineup for their first-class fixture against Middlesex, starting today, as his wife has gone into labour, but is expected to return to action inside the next week. It is not known whether he will play any part in the Test series against Sri Lanka, however, as he may wish to regain some match fitness with his county ahead of the series against Pakistan.

Ashley Giles, meanwhile, hopes to return to action next month following the hip problem which has dogged him all winter. “We think we have gotten to the bottom of my problems – a dodgy groin,” said Giles, “and the hip problem is still there. One could have had an effect on the other. But hopefully we’ve got to the bottom of it, and in five weeks I can get back to playing some cricket.”

England’s Test series against Sri Lanka starts tomorrow at Lord’s, with England having to pick their replacements for the two injured bowlers – plus Simon Jones – carefully. It appears that two from Liam Plunkett, Jon Lewis, and Sajid Mahmood will be chosen to replace Jones and Harmison, while Monty Panesar looks set to play his first home Test as Giles’ replacement, following a successful debut series in India.

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