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October 1, 2009
Stuart Broad is a doubt for England's ICC Champions Trophy semi-final against Australia after being diagnosed with a torn buttock muscle. He was able to bowl at full pace in the nets, but other movements involved with batting and fielding were a problem and he will be assessed again on the day of the match.
"We haven't ruled him out yet. He's got a little tear in one of the muscles in his buttock and we are going to give him a little bit more time to see if he's going to be fit," Andy Flower, the England coach, said. "We gave him a fitness test out there - he bowled at full pace in the nets but there are other factors like bending, running and fielding.
There is no strapping that can be done but obviously he could take some kind of painkiller. But we have a responsibility to him as well to make sure that we don't damage him badly."
Broad's absence would be a headache for the team because, despite being expensive during the tournament, he has picked up 10 wickets including four against New Zealand on Tuesday. He also strengthens the lower order and the management would need to decide how to cover all bases should he be absent.
Graham Onions, who was left out in favour of Ryan Sidebottom against New Zealand, would be one option but he would lengthen the tail so allrounder Tim Bresnan is a more like-for-like swap. Having seen the match between Australia and Pakistan it appears as though spin - or at least taking pace off the ball - could be a key weapon, so consideration may also be given to including Adil Rashid as a twin-spin threat alongside Graeme Swann
England's other fitness concern is Matt Prior who missed the last two matches after being laid low by a virus. He returned to training on Thursday, but is still feeling the effects of the illness and a decision on his participation will be taken on Friday.
"He's had this virus that's really knocked him quite hard," Flower said. "He practised with us today for the first time but struggled through the practice. We are not sure whether he is fit enough to take part in a 100-over game."
Eoin Morgan performed capably as stand-in keeper against South Africa and New Zealand, but with a place in the final at stake England will be wary of gambling on him a third time. Steven Davies, the Worcestershire wicketkeeper, is still with the squad and could be called in as an official replacement for Prior at short notice.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?