'Heartbroken' Broad sent home as his injury jinx strikes once again

Tremlett joins World Cup squad after side strain rules out unlucky bowler who also suffered Ashes agony
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The Independent Online

Stuart Broad's relationship with the cricketing gods must be under severe strain. For the second time this winter he is leaving the England side in the middle of an important series because of injury.

Following his breakdown with an abdominal tear during the Ashes, Broad has now sustained a side strain which has forced his withdrawal from the World Cup squad. He is likely to be replaced by Chris Tremlett who is already with the team as travelling reserve.

Considering that the Ashes is England's most important Test series and the World Cup their most significant one-day competition, Broad could have been forgiven yesterday for showing signs of that old condition suffered by Englishmen in the subcontinent, doolally tap.

Instead, he was calm and phlegmatic, if fearing bad news after an MRI scan at the local hospital. After copies were sent to England it was decided that Broad's tournament was over.

The side strain is a fast bowler's perennial nightmare, an occupational hazard which can strike at any time simply because of the nature of the job. Broad, 24, had never suffered one before.

"I think it is just an unfortunate coincidence," he said. "The first injury was a complete freak. The specialist said he had seen one in his career so that was very unlucky, whereas this is just a traditional bowler's side strain."

Broad departed the Ashes series after the second Test in Adelaide. He sustained the stomach injury early in Australia's second innings and was immediately ruled out of cricket until the World Cup. His value to England was no better demonstrated than on Sunday when he took four for 15 against South Africa, including the final two wickets in four balls to ensure a six-run victory.

During the match he felt some discomfort but said that adrenalin helped him to bowl through the pain. Afterwards the pain grew worse.

"I'm heartbroken to go home again from a big tournament," he said. "But I'm only 24, I have got to get my long-term health right. I don't want to risk completely ripping the side if there's a little tear there. There is a lot of cricket coming up in the next year. I want to get back in the Test team and enjoy a summer of Test cricket – it's going to be a fantastic summer again. There is that balance between wanting to play in the World Cup and pushing it but not risking my long-term health."

It is possible that the injury was caused in part by Broad's stomach virus last week which forced him to miss England's dramatic tied match against India. Confined to bed for three days, he was severely debilitated despite the high fitness level of modern cricketers.

"I wasn't particularly well the week before so my body might have been a little bit weaker," he said. "I have lost five kilos, I might not have the same balance in my body and those sort of things can cause these sort of injuries which again can be quite frustrating."

England's consolation is that they have strength in depth. Ajmal Shahzad is the spare fast bowler already in the squad and he showed his mettle as a late replacement against India, with a canny variety of slow balls and a control of reverse swing.

The Ashes hero Tremlett, who came into the Test side after Broad was struck down in Adelaide, is already with the squad. Planning ahead, England brought him to the World Cup as travelling reserve. It means that he should be already acclimatised and has also been fully restored to the playing group.

Win the match on Friday and England will definitely qualify for the quarter-finals. They arrived in Chittagong to find Bangladesh still being heavily disparaged by their fans after the heavy loss to West Indies.

The slide to 58 all out has filled the country with anger and doubt. This time they saw a real opportunity for the side to advance to the knockout stages.

The players are still talking a good game as Tamim Iqbal, their bludgeoning opening batsman showed. "I am sure only one good game will change the total scenario and you will see a different Bangladesh team," he said. "I request the fans not to do any silly things. We will win someday and lose someday as this is cricket and they need to support us in good times as well as in bad times."

The trouble is that the cricket team offers many of the people here their only glimmer of something bright. The poverty here is grim to see and the demeanour of the people is astonishingly pleasant, even joyful.

They do not ask much from their team but a competitive spirit, and the side failed to display that against the West Indies. It did not excuse the stoning of both team buses as they left the ground – the missiles were a little heavier than the pebbles spoken of by the ICC – but the depth of their agony was understandable. The game on Friday assumes an importance for Bangladesh beyond qualification for the quarter-finals.