Swann a World Cup doubt after he becomes long tour's latest victim

And still they keep falling like the flies that beset Australia. Another England Ashes hero flew home yesterday and will miss the rest of the one-day series here in a desperate attempt to ensure fitness for the World Cup.

Graeme Swann has joined Tim Bresnan in leaving the tour early, with some concern that he may not make the start of the tournament on 22 February. Swann, who had already suffered a severely bruised knee, was sent home after he also strained his lower back while bending down. Bresnan, who arrived in England yesterday, has a torn calf muscle.

Both will need intensive and extensive treatment if they are to take their place in the side against the Netherlands for England’s opening match of the World Cup and, perhaps more saliently, for their second against India at Eden Gardens in Kolkata five days later.

The damage to both bowlers is indicative of England’s demanding schedule in the last 12 weeks. Five Test matches in six weeks are being followed by nine limited overs matches all over the country. It would be no surprise at all if more players were to fall by the wayside before the team flies home for three days next month.

There was mildly more optimistic news about fast bowler Stuart Broad, who has returned to Australia after missing the last three Ashes matches because of an abdominal strain. He bowled gently in the Adelaide nets but is not expected to play in the next fortnight. All the right noises were being made yesterday about winning the Commonwealth Bank Series, but England might trade a dozen of them for one World Cup.

“It’s unsurprising, it’s a long, hard tour, not only do we play high intensity international cricket but we also train at high intensity,” said the England coach, Andy Flower in announcing Swann’s departure. “There are serious demands on these guys, we are almost three months into this tour and you can see some of the physical strains they are under.

“I think you would be naïve to believe you could get through unscathed and this is why we rest players or take them out of cricket to go on strengthening programmes because these are the demands they are under.”

Swann will be missed by England. He is by some distance their most superior spin bowler, who not only concedes runs at fewer than five runs an over but has one of the best strike rates among all slow bowlers, taking a wicket every 32 balls. It places a burden on the number two spinner, Mike Yardy, to take wickets in the middle of the innings, that he may not be able to carry. This will be crucial in the World Cup.

“He has strained his lower back, as well as having a strangely formed kneecap,” said Flower of Swann. “He is going to go home. There is no point keeping him here any longer, it is unlikely he will be able to play any part in this series at all. It gives him time to rest and recover from his injuries and be refreshed and spend some time at home.”

“I think he was bending down to pick something up and it just went. He has had an issue with his lower back before, I think he has a strangely formed lower back as well. It’s not ideal but that is the situation as it now stands. As soon as his back and knee settle down he will train with Notts so the sooner the better I hope.”

Swann’s wife is due to give birth to their first child next month and he was not expected to join England until two days before their opening match in Nagpur. But England were extremely keen for him to have some more cricket before then since he is notoriously slow to find his rhythm after a lay-off as he amply demonstrated at the start of the this tour.

Fortunately, England had a long run-in and by the time the Test series began he was in peak condition. That will not be the case in India where he will have to hit the ground running. Flower may have little option but to play him against the Netherlands to ensure he has some bowling under his belt before India come along.

Swann said: It's frustrating to return home from the tour early but the priority for me now is the World Cup and getting my body right so that I am able to play an important role for England throughout the tournament. I will be following the rest of the series and hope to see England put in some positive performances over the next fortnight. I've had the time of my life over here and bringing back the Ashes is something that will always stay with me.”

For all England’s understandably righteous protestations about this one-day series, their entire winter was always bound to be shaped by the events which book-ended it, the Ashes series, already safely won, and the World Cup. But to have a chance of standing the trophies alongside each other they need their best side.

As Flower said: “The timeline is tight for Swann and Bresnan, who has a grade one or two tear in his calf. So it is going to be tight for him to be fully fit come that first game. Given we have only three nights at home between the two tours, it is possible we might not have 15 fit guys.” Which will be a dangerous game indeed.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own