Wednesday, November 17, 1999 Published at 17:39 GMT
Headley on the mend
Headley discusses his rehabilitation with England pysio Dean Conway
The signs are promising that injured England bowler Dean Headley will recover in time to avoid being sent home from the tour to South Africa.
Headley is already out of the first Test against South Africa, which starts on November 25, but the race is now on to get him in shape for the second Test two weeks later.
The England medical team have stepped up their rehabilitation work on the Kent seamer, who has been sidelined since the opening match of the tour when he suffered a back spasm after delivering just ten balls.
He has been given a fortnight to prove his fitness and if he does not start to turn the corner soon his place could be taken by emergency cover Chris Silverwood, who has been drafted in from the England A tour to New Zealand.
England's physio Dean Conway says Headley's chances are good.
He bowled tentatively on Wednesday for the first time since having a cortisone injection over the weekend.
He faces a tough workout in the nets while his team-mates are playing in a four-day match against a Combined Northerns/Gauteng XI, starting at Centurion Park on Thursday.
"We're happy with what he got through today although he's only about 70 to 80% and we haven't pushed things," said Conway.
"There was a feeling he wasn't going to play in this next match anyway and that would rule him out of the first Test.
"We will be looking for him to bowl in the nets morning and afternoon over the next four or five days to try to get that extra 10 or 15% out of him and get him fully fit for the game after that."
If Headley does recover his fitness, he is most likely to make his return in the one-day match against a Gauteng XI at Lenasia on December 1 with a view to playing him in the four-day match against KwaZulu-Natal in Durban two days later.
The second Test beging in Port Elizabeth on December 9.
Meanwhile Silverwood is waiting in the wings.
He must be desperate to prove he has developed into an international-class fast bowler having been selected three times for England squads last summer only to miss out on the final line-up.
"I'm a bit in limbo now because I don't know how long I'm going to be staying or what is going to happen.
"All the lads seem to pulling through quite well with injuries, but if the chance comes along I will do my best to take it."
Should Silverwood be given a Test call, it could mark the first Yorkshire quartet to play a Test for England in 19 years.
Darren Gough is a certain starter for every Test providing he remains fit, while both Gavin Hamilton and Michael Vaughan have made big impressions since their arrivals in South Africa.
If Silverwood matches their successful contributions, it would be the first time Yorkshire had four players in an England Test side since the centenary Test at Lord's against Australia in 1980 when David Bairstow, Chris Old, Bill Athey and Geoff Boycott were chosen.
Silverwood's made his only Test appearance against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo three years ago, where he claimed four for 71.