England have lost their lucky charm ahead of their three-Test series with Pakistan as Tim Bresnan has been ruled out until at least the one-day series in a month because of an elbow injury.
Bresnan has a 100 per cent winning record from his ten Tests, but was unable to bat as England limped to victory in their opening warm up match in the UAE after clearly not fully recovering fully from recent surgery to his right elbow.
His ability to gain reverse swing will be a big loss and Bresnan is the third member of Andrew Strauss’ bowling attack to have injury troubles, as firstly Chris Tremlett missed the success because of an eye infection and Graeme Swann was unable to bowl in the second innings.
Swann was taken out of the attack as a precautionary measure and should be fit for the first Test in Dubai in a week, while England remain optimistic over Tremlett.
However, if the tall seamer is not passed fit, England may not have any choice but to name two spinners.
Monty Panesar is almosty certain to be given a twirl in the second and final warm up match against a Pakistan Cricket Board XI and if he is among the wickets then he is an almost guarenteed starter in Durban.
Panesar may also be buoyed by the fact that part-time spinner Kevin Pietersen took a wicket in the win over an ICC Combined XI, showing that there are wickets in the offering for spinners.
Meanwhile, with Saeed Ajmal the most deadly weapon in the Pakistan bowling attack, the pitch is liable to be prepared to aid spinners over the faster bowlers.
Following the injury news and England’s edgy victory, Pakistan may be worth backing at 5/2 in the cricket odds to win the first Test, with England 6/4 and the draw available at the same price.