Tim Bresnan is ready to return bang on schedule as England bid to bounce back in the Ashes at Adelaide.
Bresnan’s timetable for recovery from a stress fracture of the lower back always contained a best-case scenario of him being fit again for this second Test.
He duly played his first match last week, since injury struck in August, taking four first-innings wickets and making an unbeaten half-century as the England Performance Programme drew with Queensland Second XI in Brisbane.
The Yorkshireman was officially added to England's full Test squad yesterday, having previously trained with them on tour and also had to watch them lose the first Test by 381 runs at the Gabba.
Following that setback, England are thought likely to welcome back a player who has never lost to Australia – winning four of five Tests - and was a catalyst for their surge to a series victory here when he was called up for the final two matches three years ago.
“I'm excited to be back amongst it. I'm available for selection,” he said. “It’s been quite frustrating travelling with the guys and doing all the prep, but knowing I probably wasn’t going to play any of the warm-up games.
“But I’m relishing the chance if I do get one at Adelaide.”
Bresnan confirmed hopes were high all along that he would be fit in time to face Australia on Thursday.
“This was the plan from the outset,” he said. “The medical team sat down then and said I may not be fit for Brisbane; there's a slim chance for Adelaide, but - if everything goes well - we can push for that.
“Andy (Flower) was happy with that, so brought me along as a spare member of the team.
“The lads have been great and pretty much treated me like one of the squad, so that’s been very good. Now I’m ready.”
The likelihood is that Bresnan will return in place of Chris Tremlett to support Stuart Broad and James Anderson at a venue likely to test all bowlers’ resolve.
Unlike in Brisbane, the Adelaide drop-in pitch is expected to offer the seamers only a modicum of bounce and pace - and spin may become a more significant weapon late in the match.
Ian Bell’s Test participation is not in doubt, despite being struck a painful blow on the shoulder in the nets today as he faced sidearm throw-downs from batting coach Graham Gooch.
Bell did not return to continue batting but, after being assessed by England’s medical team, was cleared of significant injury and will practise again tomorrow.