Stuart Broad's injury woes underpin England's desire for rotation
T20 captain due to join squad in India with selectors proud of bowling strength in depth
When England line up against India for the second one-day international on Tuesday, a full compliment of seam bowlers means the phrase "squad rotation" can be parked. However, as the cautionary tale of Stuart Broad proves, the policy is merely parked on double yellow lines and will need to move along again soon.
With Broad's injury travails in mind, in this most Christian of Indian states, his fellow seamers may wish to pay a visit to the Church of St Martin de Porres, which stands just around the corner from Kochi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. As a reminder of the fragility of the fast bowler's lot, it would be a timely moment to recite The Litany of the Most Precious Body of Broad, which reads: knee; buttock; shoulder; back; stomach; rib; side; shoulder; calf; and heel.
That list of injuries may only date back three years but the good news is that the power of physiotherapy – rather than of prayer – is having an effect on Broad's bruised heel. Chairman of selectors Geoff Miller revealed yesterday that, as planned, the 26-year-old will join the squad in Mohali for the final two matches of the series.
However, as Broad began running only last week, it is unlikely he will feature in either match. Bowling coach David Saker is of the opinion that, "whether he plays or not, it will be good preparation for New Zealand", where Broad (left) is due to lead the Twenty20 side in three internationals next month. Miller confirmed that, "There's not a doubt about him being in New Zealand at this stage."
It is the words "at this stage" that cause consternation. "Anybody with an injury is a concern and we've got to manage workloads as best as we can," Miller explained. On the specific issue of Broad's body, Miller said that, "He felt, and we felt, that he had to look after his body so he went away and worked really hard. The concern is that there have been two or three niggles that have affected his form."
As the Ashes looms large, the issue of squad rotation is also under the spotlight in Australia, where they have rested key players for the one-day series against Sri Lanka. Selector John Inverarity has gone so far as to rebrand it as "informed player management". And that is exactly what Miller is advocating, not just for Broad, but for all players.
Alastair Cook says the fact that Broad has not been missed is due to the captain having at his disposal "a crop of young bowlers who are getting better and better". Although Cook did add "I want to play as much cricket as I can for England", he is singing from the same hymn sheet as Miller. "Careers are short but rest and rotation is going to be an important part of the side moving forward," agreed Cook. "We've said that, but luckily we are building a squad of players."
Luck has nothing to do with it according to Miller: "That's not accidental. We've worked hard at this, through the Lions and other things. It's not just having a pool of bowlers but different kinds of bowlers."
This morning, three of those different kinds – all former Lions – will be in action. From the steepling pace of Steven Finn, still waiting for his radar to kick in following his own injury concern; Tim Bresnan, the wily veteran; and Jade Dernbach, with his guts and variations. Champing at the bit from the sidelines will be Stuart Meaker. Unless, that is, the selectors decide to shift squad rotation from those double yellow lines.
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