England v New Zealand, 2nd NatWest ODI, Ageas Bowl June 2, 2013

England's CT plans hit by defeats, injuries

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England's plans for the Champions Trophy could need a significant rethink over the next few days following their two heavy defeats against New Zealand amid growing concerns over the fitness of Stuart Broad and Steven Finn less than a week before their opening match of the tournament against Australia.

Broad and Finn have missed the first two ODIs against New Zealand with knee and shin problems respectively. They are due to undergo fitness tests on Monday, although a clearer picture of their chances of making the Champions Trophy may not be available until Tuesday when the England squad reconvenes at Trent Bridge.

Broad's knee problem was picked up on the final day of the Headingley Test when he took a caught-and-bowled off Brendon McCullum. Finn's shin soreness suggests a more stress-related problem after his early-season workload. It would be a major, and almost unworkable, gamble for England to enter the Champions Trophy with two of their strike bowlers under injury clouds. Teams can replace injured players, subject to ICC ratification, at any time but once a player is removed he can't return to the 15-man squad.

"They are both a concern," admitted Alastair Cook, "but five or six days is still quite a long way away. They've missed two games and been out for a while, so we'll see."

However, even in the worst-case scenario where England lose both bowlers, Cook did not believe it had to be terminal to their chances. "I think that would be doing a disservice to the other 13 guys in the squad," he said. "If you take two premier bowlers out of any side it will hurt and you might have to change the way you play."

Cook gave a strong indication that England would consider moving away from the current balance of six batsmen and five frontline bowlers for the final ODI against New Zealand at Trent Bridge on Wednesday. When Broad and Finn are fit they make a strong bowling line-up alongside James Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann, but Jade Dernbach and Chris Woakes have struggled to fill the breach. Dernbach went for 87 in 10 overs in the second game and Woakes, albeit having suffered a dropped catch for the second match running, went wicketless again and was used for only seven overs.

As far as options go, quick bowler Boyd Rankin is part of the squad for the New Zealand series. Ravi Bopara, who has been made available for Essex's YB40 match against Surrey on Monday, would provide an all-round option and James Tredwell another spin choice.

"It's been a tough couple of games," Cook said. "Clearly when you lose bowlers of the quality of Stuart and Finny it leaves a hole. It has the given the opportunity to guys to show us what they can do. We've learned a lot about these players and us as a side. It's obviously a concern; the standards we've played to here haven't been good enough.

"You do tend to look, after a couple of defeats, at the balance and make-up of your side. We certainly have options to go both ways… at this point I'm sure we'll look at different combinations because the ones we've used haven't worked in these two games."

While conceding the series loss - and by such convincing margins - has dealt a blow to preparations going into the Champions Trophy, Cook remained upbeat that his team will be able to turn their form around.

"It's frustrating because you always want to build momentum and build confidence but as you look at the tournament from now you realise it's two weeks of cricket and you have to play your best for two weeks," he said. "Whoever does that will win the tournament. This will be of little relevance when we get there, but in an ideal world we'd have won these games. Sometimes when you lose good things can come of it."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on June 5, 2013, 21:05 GMT

    The CT does not matter a fig, we MUST set retaining the Ashes as our priority this Summer, nothing else.

  • Occidental_Observer on June 5, 2013, 0:12 GMT

    I doubt the English have anything to worry about these Ashes. As yesterday's Australian performance against the Indians suggested, neither is the Aussie batting, nor is their bowling likely to threaten anybody, let alone the Poms who have more world class players (Pietersen, Prior, Swann, Anderson, Trott, Bell, Cook, Finn, Broad and Root) than them (Clarke, Watson, Siddle and Pattinson).

    Australia will be most fortunate to not lose by a margin of at least 0-8.

  • Meety on June 5, 2013, 0:00 GMT

    @LMcPaul - "Say what you like about Australia's batting but it still takes good bowling to get them out!" - like India's ODI line up yesterday? Man that hurts saying it! That said I have ALWAYS rated Yadav as a special talent.

  • JG2704 on June 4, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    @Lyndon McPaul - Let's see how it all pans out. Our bowling attack depth is a concern and I think Australia have a very real chance but I just felt your post was very one eyed

    @AKS - I think Tremlett got injured in 2011 and has not played many games since coming back from injury and has done little of note since. Why would you pick someone who has come off a long injury lay off and has done little for Surrey to make you think he's as potent as he was pre injury? Simon Jones was probably better than most of our current crop and now he's just a county player

  • AKS286 on June 4, 2013, 16:04 GMT

    @JG2704 Fella Tremlett don't get a fair chance to prove. England have good pace bowlers in backbench the problem is that not well rotated or did't get international exposure.@ Lyndon McPaul on (June 4, 2013, 11:56 GMT) Australia is slightly above to England. Actually Australia rotation policy & international exposure is more than Eng. Australia tried too many bowlers and fail to manage them. Onion,Tremlett, M.Footit, CJ Wright, Sayers, Meaker, j.Brooks, C.Shreck, Trego, Roland jones, J.Harris are good back benches but the only thing is required is management. SA is having more powerful guns in deadly barrage but difficult to manage all.

  • dummy4fb on June 4, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    JG2704..oh and as far as most knowledgeable cricket commentators would agree; Australia has a far larger depth in pace stocks than England. At the moment we have 4 world class seamers + 1 highly talented (M.Starc) in the squad itself. Our number 1 shield wicket taker is outside the squad but in the A tour in England at the moment (Chadd Sayers). He swings the ball both ways accurately at pace, so were their to be 1,2 or even 3 injuries to our bowlers we could still find some potent replacements. Australia's depth will count more and more with Each of the 10 tests.

  • dummy4fb on June 4, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    @JG2704."Don't think you're arguments stack up that well. Australia seem to get the same injury probs with their bowlers that England get" I am not arguing; it is beyond argument that England have the injury concerns right now with their bowlers and that they dont have a clue as to possible replacements at least for the CT. Sport is a creature of the present never the past. In re to "Say what you like about Australia's batting but it still takes good bowling to get them out!" You mean like India's test bowlers? India's bowling was very hard to play for the particular conditions and the pitch preparations were contrived to strongly suit India's strength of spin bowling.Despite this (and no excuses) Australia still managed some good first innings totals but crumbled in the second innings as pitches that were turning square on the first day continued to deteriorate.My point however is that in conditions a lot more favourable to Australia's style of play; England has to bowl well to win!

  • JG2704 on June 4, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    @Meety on (June 4, 2013, 8:15 GMT) I'm not sure what Napier's shorter format form is overall but every time I see him on TV he seems to do something with bat or ball. I know he's a bits and pieces player but T20 in particular and 50 overs formats need these sort of players.

    @AKS286 on (June 4, 2013, 7:16 GMT) Broad has a slightly better ER and a much better average/SR in ODIs. Tremlett has done nothing of note since coming back

    @Un_Citoyen_Indien on (June 4, 2013, 4:55 GMT) a WC in the test format has been talked about but is extremely tough to organise. In England so many matches are rain affected. Obviously as heartbreaking as it is that you and your friends don't like the test format and it's not everyone's cup of tea , there are still many out there who see test cricket as the pinnacle

  • JG2704 on June 4, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    @Lyndon McPaul on (June 3, 2013, 4:29 GMT) Don't think you're arguments stack up that well. Australia seem to get the same injury probs with their bowlers that England get and re

    "Say what you like about Australia's batting but it still takes good bowling to get them out!"

    You mean like India's test bowlers?

  • Meety on June 4, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    @ JG2704 on (June 3, 2013, 21:53 GMT) - Napier was a name that I'd seen pop up in reports from time to time & I occasionally watch the odd Eng domestic 40 over game while I am waiting to pick my daughter up from work. Anyways seeing the 7 wicket performance - I read his cricinfo bio - he seems to be a desperately unlucky bloke, who every time he looks like getting selected he gets injured or loses form. Like others here, I think the Dernbach persistance is just plain bloody minded stubborness, - he'd be the only one that I'd change, but that would also depend on the real fitness levels of Broad & Finn. Broad's injury doesn't like much, (who knows?), but the Finn shin (sounds better as one word), injury seems to be more of a worry!