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Shoaib links up with county side

LONDON: Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar will train with Warwickshire as he attempts to regain fitness for Pakistan's Test and one-day series against England.

Shoaib was left out of Pakistan's squad because of an ankle stress fracture.

The 30-year-old will arrive at Edgbaston at the weekend and play club cricket to test his fitness.

"They'll try to arrange a couple of club matches to help him come back from his injury," Pakistan cricket boss Shahriyar Khan said.

"He is improving quickly but needs match practice and the weather in Pakistan right now is not conducive to him playing there - it is either too hot or raining.

"So he will train in England and will be checked up by our medical team."

Shoaib has taken 165 Test and 199 one-day international wickets, and claimed 17 scalps to lead Pakistan to a 2-0 win over England in last winter's Test series.

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer had two spells in charge of Warwickshire and led them to an unprecedented three titles in 1994.

Warwickshire operations manager Keith Cook confirmed: "Shoaib is going to come to Edgbaston and use our on-site gym as he tries to get fit."

Woolmer said he hoped to have Shoaib available for action towards the end of the Test series.

"We've not completely given up hope," said Woolmer.

"We're looking to get him going and - touch wood - he might be available for the third and fourth Tests."

The third Test starts on 4 August at Headingley with the fourth two weeks later at The Oval, while a five-match one-day international series starts on 30 August.

"We've had some good news recently. His fracture's virtually healed, so he should be able to start bowling again," added Woolmer.

"We're going to bring him over to England and try to find him some cricket.

"So if there are any clubs interested in having him bowl for them on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon then that would be useful for us."



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