England will have a clearer idea today about their crucial fast bowling resources for the Champions Trophy. Medical bulletins on Stuart Broad's bruised knee, Steve Finn's sore shins and the pregnancy of Tim Bresnan's wife, Hannah, may give the selectors a clue about what to do next.
On the other hand, they may not. Broad and Finn will be given every opportunity to recover after the poor showing of their replacements in the one-day series against New Zealand, which has effectively been practice for the ICC tournament starting in Cardiff on Thursday. The baby will arrive in his or her own good time and Bresnan will be given leave of absence from the squad.
There is general optimism about the chances of Finn and Broad recovering in time but that is now also accompanied by a sense of desperation. They went for scans yesterday which were being scrutinised overnight. If both respond to treatment in the next few days they will undoubtedly play in England's first match of the Champions Trophy against Australia on Saturday despite their lack of match practice.
It is not ideal but it is already being deemed better than the alternative. But if both remain unfit by Saturday, at least one of them will be replaced. England would not dare enter such a high-profile competition with over-stretched resources, especially with Bresnan likely to be away from the squad for a day or so.
Alastair Cook, England's captain, has not yet abandoned hope of his two senior bowlers making the side for the last match of the series against New Zealand tomorrow. Finn has stayed with the squad, which indicates he is almost ready to play, Broad left only because he lives in Nottingham where tomorrow's match is being played and will rejoin his colleagues today. The depth of England's bowling stocks appears to have been found wanting in the last week although Cook demurred at the idea that England's chances would be reduced if the absence of Broad and Finn continues.
"I think that would be doing a disservice to the other 13 guys in the squad," he said. "Clearly, you take two premier bowlers out of anyone's side, and it's going to hurt."
But England have been shaken by their poor form after the triumph against New Zealand in the Test series and the old adage of players improving for being out of the side has never looked truer than in the case of Broad and Finn.
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