injury, batting woes blight England

ENGLAND face several selection problems ahead of the first Twenty20 international against South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium tomorrow.

ENGLAND face several selection problems ahead of the first Twenty20 international against South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium tomorrow.

There are injury concerns about no fewer than four of the touring team's bowlers, while a poor batting performance in a warm-up game against South Africa A raised doubts about the batsmen earmarked for the 20-over clash.

Star batsman Kevin Pietersen joined up with the squad yesterday after recovering from heel surgery and there may be a temptation to rush him into action. There might also be a discussion about tour captain Andrew Strauss, the team's most impressive batsman on tour so far, after they slumped to 89 all out in his absence on the way to a four-wicket defeat against South Africa A in Bloemfontein yesterday.

Strauss, who hit 72 against the Eagles and 117 not out against the Warriors in 50-over matches, is not due to play in the shortest form of the game.

"He has decided not to play Twenty20 cricket and it is pretty much as simple as that," said England Twenty20 captain Paul Collingwood. "It is also nice for him to have a break from captaincy. If we are down to our bare bones he may have to play but there is hardly any chance of that."

Fast bowler Stuart Broad is unlikely to play in the Twenty20 games because of a shoulder injury, but England are hoping that fellow bowlers Graham Onions (back), James Anderson (knee) and Graeme Swann (thigh) will be fit for selection.

South Africa played impressively in beating Zimbabwe by 212 runs in the second and final one-day international in Centurion on Tuesday.

Proteas captain Graeme Smith said: "We know that there's a stiffer challenge in the summer and our focus now turns to that."

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