Worcestershire will await the result of a fitness test before deciding whether Shoaib Akhtar is ready to make his County Championship debut at New Road today.
The Pakistani paceman is a doubt to face Yorkshire after limping out of Worcestershire's Twenty20 Cup win over Glamorgan on Wednesday night with a calf problem. Nadeem Malik will play if Shoaib does not make it.
If Shoaib does not play, it would no doubt amuse the cynics who predicted that his injury track record would continue to haunt him in English county cricket. But New Road team-mate Ben Smith is backing Shoaib to be a success over the final two months of the season.
"He bowls very fast so it is perhaps not surprising if he picks up a few injuries," said Smith. "But he has the sheer pace that can win us matches. He's also very clever. He has a good slower ball, he can bowl reverse swing and he's got a good yorker."
In fact, the main source of relief for the in-form Smith and his fellow Worcestershire batsman is that they don't have to face the full ferocity of the 'Rawalpindi Express'.
"He doesn't bowl much in the nets," said Smith. "He tends to do his bowling out in the middle of the square, aiming at a stump with the keeper standing back."
Yorkshire are able to recall England Test bowler Matthew Hoggard, hoping to get over an expensive battering in the Twenty20 Cup and given the chance to warm up for the impending Ashes series.
But Worcestershire are significantly strengthened from the side which suffered a barely credible final-day defeat to Leicestershire in their last Championship outing three weeks ago.
If Shoaib does make it, then he will be one of three changes, replacing Nadeem. Vice-captain Gareth Batty hopes to see out the four days this time as he takes charge of his second Championship game, again deputising as skipper for Vikram Solanki.
Batty captained the county for the first time against Somerset at Bath in early June, only to be called away after two days when England needed him. But, having missed the Leicestershire debacle, he is back in place of Ray Price while fellow England absentee Kabir Ali effectively replaces Chaminda Vaas, who has flown off to play for Sri Lanka.
With Stephen Peters sdelined by a hamstring strain, youngsters Steve Davies and Daryl Mitchell remain in the team.
The next four days ought to make quite a contrast for the Worcestershire cricketing public after gorging on a three-week diet of Twenty20 Cup cricket.
Judging by the brutal way he closed his account on Wednesday night with a stunning 105 in 45 balls against Glamorgan, Smith ought to miss Twenty20 more than most.
But he was also in pretty good form when the Championship break came, having scored centuries in three successive matches prior to his team's defeat at Grace Road.
"Apart from that bit of a blip at Leicester, when we lost the game in one session, we've had a really good season four-day cricket," said Smith. "We've won five of our first eight games and if we won four out of our last eight we'd have to be in with a chance of promotion."