Hopes remain high for Bresnan to recover in time for Test opener

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England must divert from Plan A already in the first match of a tour which is sure to test their mettle in the United Arab Emirates.

Andrew Strauss’s team have made great virtue of consistency of selection on their ascent to the top of the International Cricket Council’s world Test rankings.

It therefore seemed entirely as it should be that, when they step out today at Dubai Sports City’s GCA ground against an ICC Combined XI 12 months to the day after their glorious victory in Sydney, they could expect all but two of last year’s Ashes stars to be present.

That, though, was before confirmation Yorkshire seamer Tim Bresnan would not be available for the first of two warm-up fixtures before the opening Test in a three-match series against Pakistan.

Bresnan has experienced discomfort in his right elbow following surgery a month ago. His absence might have opened the door for Chris Tremlett to make it nine out of the Sydney XI after all, but Tremlett may have to sit out the three-day match too, because of an eye infection.

It is nonetheless testament to England’s world-beating status that three men not involved in administering the final blows against Australia a year ago will hardly weaken the team.

Stuart Broad, injured this time last year, Eoin Morgan and Steve Finn are likely to replace Tremlett, the retired Paul Collingwood and Bresnan.

Even so, Strauss acknowledges the minor inconvenience at least of having to get by without Bresnan.

“In an ideal world, he’d be ready by now,” he said.

“But as is always the case with operations, you can’t be 100 per cent sure how the recuperation is going to go.

“We’re very optimistic, because it’s (Bresnan’s elbow) certainly shown a lot of signs of calming down.

“We hope he’ll be able to play in that second warm-up game.

“I wouldn’t rule anything in or out, but it will obviously be quite important he gets a lot of bowling under his belt to prove he’s okay – whether that’s on or off the field.”

On Tremlett, Strauss added: “We’ll probably just wait and see how he is a bit later on. But at this stage, we’ve got to take a slightly precautionary route.”