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January 31, 2011
Stuart Broad has taken the glass-half-full view of the injury lay-off that forced him to miss the last three Ashes Test and current one-day series, believing he will benefit from the rest over the next year. Broad suffered an abdominal strain on the fourth day in Adelaide and is still working his way back towards full fitness, but is confident of being ready for the start of the World Cup.
He returned to the squad mid-way through this one-day series to continue his recovery away from the British winter, aware that there is a rapid turnaround to the World Cup with England's first game against Netherlands on February 22. Broad is eager to get back into action, but even with the current injury crisis in the squad, he won't be getting a game in Australia.
"I don't think the doctors will even let Straussy ask that question," he said. "I'm keen to play but I don't think it will happen. I've been unfortunate to miss the last seven weeks but we have got a huge amount of cricket coming up so this little break might just help me fire on all cylinders for the next year or so.
"I'm probably a little bit ahead of schedule. I probably bowled at 50-60 percent yesterday and pulled up fine this morning. Hopefully by the end of the Australia tour I'll have come off near a full run-up, my aim is to try and play the first warm-up game of the World Cup so I'm hopeful of that."
Broad is crucial to England's World Cup chances because, even though the fringe bowlers have performed well in Australia, his aggressive, in-your-face style, will be important on flat pitches. He is also one of the team's key Powerplay and death bowlers, while also featuring heavily in the middle overs when breakthroughs are needed.
"I'm desperate to get back playing, it's felt like a long seven and a half weeks," he said. "I love playing cricket, that's what I do, so it's hard when you injured and don't get to try and improve yourself. I'm certainly looking forward to getting back playing and there's a lot of cricket coming up."
He was the only injury England suffered during their successful Ashes campaign, but since then bowlers have dropped like flies with the workload catching up with them. Tim Bresnan (calf) and Graeme Swann (back) have flown home to try and recover in time for the World Cup while Ajmal Shahzad limped off during the Brisbane ODI with a hamstring strain and Chris Tremlett, a possible replacement for the squad if needed, has a side strain.
"I think the injuries are pretty minor so I don't think it will affect any balance to the World Cup squad or anything like that," he said, "but it's a little frustrating in this series to have lost as many players as we have. It's been hard to find the right balance that we'll go into the World Cup with. But you can't do anything about injuries and after a lot of cricket on this tour I think we've done well with the amount of injuries we've had."
Despite having to sit out the final three Ashes Tests and miss the moments of glory at Melbourne and Sydney there is no resentment from Broad who, apart from the bitter weather in the UK, enjoyed every moment of the team's success on television.
"It wasn't difficult, it was brilliant to see. I'm an England fan at the end of the day. It was great to see the lads perform so well. It was difficult because it was freezing cold with snow everywhere. Obviously I was disappointed to miss out on those celebrations and achievements, but I still feel part of the team. It was fantastic to see and enjoyable to watch."
Although the tour is finishing on a sour note with the one-day series loss, Broad doesn't think it should take the gloss off what has been achieved. "I don't think England players deserve to have any negative memories about the tour so it's important we finish this series strongly and look back with great fondness on the last three months."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala