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April 9, 2012
Andy Flower, the England team director, has said that Stuart Broad's recurring injury problems are a worry. However he is resigned to Broad linking up with the IPL if he recovers from the calf strain that ruled him out of the second Test against Sri Lanka and has admitted the event is a "tricky" subject.
It was the latest in a list of injuries for Broad over the last 18 months, starting with the stomach muscle strain that ruled him out of three Ashes Tests in Australia before a rib injury curtailed his World Cup campaign. Towards the end of the English season he then damaged his shoulder and missed the end of the India home series and Twenty20 matches against West Indies, plus the return contest in India during October which meant Graeme Swann was required as a stand-in T20 captain.
"It is a concern," Flower said. "He's one of the leaders in our attack and our T20 captain as well. But he'll be working hard to get back in readiness for the West Indies series."
Broad's workload is one of the highest among the England squad with him playing all three formats but he has a contract with Kings XI Punjab which Flower knows he will need to honour if his calf recovers. If he does join up with the tournament he will return home to play one County Championship match, against Middlesex, before the first Test against West Indies at Lord's on May 17. He was due to meet the ECB medical staff on Monday to assess his progress.
"The IPL is a tricky subject and a tricky time in the cricketing calendar, and I don't think there's a perfect answer there," Flower said. "My priority now is getting the guys ready for the West Indies series.
"He's contracted to his IPL side so if he's fit he'll go and play IPL and come back and play that first-class game prior to the West Indies series, as planned. If he's not fit enough to do that, and calf injuries can take a bit longer than some of the other muscle groups, he won't go."
Any England centrally contracted player who appears in the IPL - so that also includes Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan - are monitored by the ECB's medical staff who keep in touch with the franchises to ensure any predefined programmes are adhered to and how any niggles are treated.
Playing the IPL would mean no significant rest period for Broad until at least after the World Twenty20 where he will be captain and even then it will be short as the team are due to start a four-Test series in India in November. However, on the flip side the tournament could be a useful chance to expand his game ahead of the World Twenty20 in September where England will defend their title. Broad also missed last year's IPL due to the rib injury he picked up at the World Cup.
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