Tim Bresnan has officially rejoined England's Ashes squad in readiness for the second Test in Adelaide, and Australia expect conditions to favour an immediate recall for the Yorkshireman following his back problems.
Bresnan made his first appearance since the fourth Test of the Ashes series in August this year when he played for the Performance Programme in Brisbane last week. He came through with flying colours, taking four wickets in the first innings, bowling a total of 26 overs, and also underlining his batting ability with an unbeaten half century.
England confirmed yesterday afternoon that he had been "added to the squad" and would now be "available for selection" – restoring the party to 17, albeit with a different balance, after the shock departure of Jonathan Trott.
The suspicion has always been that England were keen for Bresnan to play in Adelaide, where a new drop-in pitch is expected to offer less pace and bounce than the first Test strip at the Gabba and reverse swing could become a factor.
Australia's Steve Smith confirmed that the home team share those suspicions, and have even been preparing for the possible inclusion of Monty Panesar as well as Graeme Swann.
“I think it’s going to be pretty dry and it might take a bit of turn,” he said of the pitch. “So if they’re going to play two spinners we’ve got to be prepared to counteract that and if not I’m sure there’s going to be a bit of reverse swing, so we’ve got to play well against that as well.”
Asked specifically about Panesar, who took three wickets in England's two-day match in Alice Springs, Smith confirmed that Australia's coach Darren Lehmann has raised the possibility.
“It’s one thing we’ve got to look at and a couple of us have worked on some left-arm orthodox out there, just Boof [ Lehmann] throwing a few,” he added. “So if [Panesar] plays we’ve got to look to counteract that as well.”
Whether Bresnan or Panesar plays, Smith said that Australia are confident Chris Tremlett, who dismissed him in Brisbane, will not. "We're not really thinking that Tremlett's going to play next game," he said. "So we've got to get used to the other bowlers."
Australia suffered a brief scare during the warm-up to their afternoon training session when the captain Michael Clarke appeared to roll an ankle. But within an hour he was batting without any apparent discomfort. "He looked pretty good in the nets," said Smith.