England in Sri Lanka 2012 March 24, 2012

England monitor Broad fitness


Stuart Broad did not bowl during England's first training session in Galle to protect an ankle injury he picked up earlier in the tour but is still expected to be available for the first Test against Sri Lanka which starts on Monday.

Broad tripped on a boundary rope shortly before the first warm-up match against a President's XI in Colombo and was pulled out of the game. However, he was part of the team for the second practice game where he sent down 23 overs against the Sri Lanka Development XI for four wickets and was the most impressive of England's bowlers.

"He just wanted an extra day off from bowling after the game he played," James Anderson, his new-ball partner, said. "He bowled quite a few overs in the last game and he's just giving his ankle a little bit of extra time to recover."

However, if England maintain the balance of playing two quicks and two spinners with which they completed the series against Pakistan in the UAE, they cannot afford any doubts over one of the pacemen. England are not short of fast-bowling reserves -- Steven Finn has played both warm-up matches and Tim Bresnan is also in the squad -- but Broad has become an integral part of the team after recapturing his form against India last year. Since the first Test of that series, at Lord's, he has taken 38 wickets at 16.10 in seven matches.

The make-up of England team is one of the major talking points heading into the series, particularly following a side strain to Ravi Bopara which could likely prevent him from bowling in either of the two Tests. He is still expected to return to the side at No. 6 to replace the dropped Eoin Morgan, but in energy-sapping conditions the thought of having a better-than-part-time fifth-bowling option will be one that Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower will continue to ponder.

"It is going be a difficult decision with Ravi not being able to bowl," Anderson admitted. "It's always difficult going in with just two seamers and two spinners and not having a fifth bowling option. Trotty and KP can bowl a few overs but the decision the selectors have to make is whether they want the fifth bowler to be someone who is more capable with the ball."

England do have a couple of ways to balance the side if they so wish; a Test debut for Samit Patel at No. 6 or a recall for Bresnan with Matt Prior moving up the order one place. The latter would be a positive statement to make at the start of the short series but remains a long shot with Strauss and Flower reluctant to play five frontline bowlers. Patel, meanwhile, showed form with the bat in the last warm-up game with 72 off 78 balls but in 18 overs during the first innings conceded four-and-a-half an over and in the second innings seven.

The least likely route England seem like taking is dropping a spinner to accommodate a third seamer after the success of Monty Panesar in the UAE. "We started going with two seamers and two spinners in the UAE and it worked well for us. Hopefully we can continue with that form," Anderson said. "It makes things slightly different for the quicks because in this heat the spells will be shorter than we're used to. It puts more focus on us to be right on the money every ball."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sopaka on March 26, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    I'll remember this day for two blunders from a former English Captain. Mike Atherton wanted Mahela's figures on screen and said the difference between home and away averages (68 Vs 38) shows that he is someone who will always struggle on real bouncy pitches and does not know where his off stump is. This coming from a man who's carreer test average is only 37. His stroke play was so predictable, Vaas got him out 5 out of his 6 innings on his last series in SL for low scores. Next blunder was to dig his teeth with his fingers on live TV (Ten Sports), take a food particle out look at it, and put it back in his mouth. Yuck! Where did he learn that from? Oxford or Cambridge?

  • John on March 25, 2012, 22:44 GMT

    @Nutcutlet on (March 25 2012, 11:39 AM GMT) Isn't Bres not fully fit either? I'm not sure how fit Broad is? From what I read from the report it was more precautionary that anything. Did I read that he trod awkwardly on a boundary rope? I've always wondered why grounds can't have lines rather than ropes no minimalise injuries? I'd risk Broad unless he was looking ineffective. It's not a strain injury which he could aggravate and he has been superb for us in all formats recently. As you know my 11 would have Patel at 5 or 6 with Prior at 5 or 6 and then Bres or Finn , plus the 4 we used in UAE 2ND/3RD tests

  • Sejani on March 25, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    england may have lost the series in th e UAE but remember they are the no.1 test team & thay didnt earn by just sitting around.They worked for it.Worked HARD.i think cook is a big advantage for england as he can bat through the innings while scorings runs & the seamers for england have always been sucessful when playing against sl.Sri lanka wil have to work vey hard to pull this series off as a DRAW!good luck to both teams!:)

  • ian on March 25, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    The selection for this Test match - above all others of recent times - calls for a great deal of flexibility in thinking. The factors that make a strong case for this are based on the suffocating heat & humidity and the virtual certainty that the wicket will be a raging bunsen. To pick a quick bowler who is, perhaps, 75% fit, is asking for trouble. The conditions and the lack of pace & bounce in the wicket will mean that quick bowlers' effectiveness will become reduced as soon as the gloss has gone from the new ball, after 12-15 overs, say. If Broad isn't at least 90% fit, he mustn't play: Bresnan gets his place in the interests of balance in the side. I have made the case for Samit's inclusion elsewhere. This, then, is my 6-11: Prior, Samit, Bresnan/Broad, Swann, Anderson, Panesar. Even so, I expect the quicks to bowl cutters (as Darren Gough did here eleven years ago). In short, this Test match is like no other. It'll be like playing in a sauna under a glaring sun on a dirt track!

  • Ben on March 25, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    At last..a reasonable, measured comment from RandyOZ relating to an England story...welcome back! Swann will play, yes his form has declined but his record against left handers is still excellent....with Broad not 100% it improves Bresnan's chances...although I don't think they'll drop Bell..I think they should...tell him to fill his boots against WI..time to put faith in Prior as a no6...

  • RankPace on March 25, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    It will not be easy for england against the sri lankans at home.

  • R on March 25, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    im not sure Hick played B'desh?? If he did he would have been able to bloat his overall figs accordingly.... Like Bell... Bell had a v ordinary recent tour v Oz, (holing out failing to shepherd the tail in Brisi, and holing out for 1 at MCG immediately spring to mind) & again zero match winning inns or solus tons and his ave against oz prior to last ashes was in the 20's from memory.... Now it's 32, Hick's ave vs oz is 35, slightly better I would suggest!! I agree IR Bell has loads of talent, just no guts and consistantly not a man for a crisis, (identical to Hick) which is why I wd include Patel instead (and I would have kept Morgan in the party to work with Gooch). I have followed Eng all aroung the world btw, just don't like gutless (however talented) players.

  • James on March 25, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Bell is proven class and must play. Cook has had far worse dips in form and was rightly retained - look at him now. If England think they need five bowlers in the heat, they must play Bresnan at 7. If they think they can manage with four bowlers, they have to pick the best batsman at 6, and the consistent decision would be to pick Bopara. I like Patel and if they think he's more likely than Bopara to score big runs, that's fine and they should pick him. But they shouldn't pick him because of his part-time bowling, which is reality will be very unlikely to be used by Strauss in preference to Panesar's much better left-arm spin.

  • R on March 25, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    Seems we are all agreed! Strauss Cook Del KP Bopeep Prior Patel Broad Swanny Jimmy Monty (Finn if Broad injured)

  • John on March 25, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    I've always been in favor of using spin rather than seam in these conditions. 2 + 2 is the way to go and I'd give Patel the final spot. I'm pretty sure Bell will play- calling him 'the new Hick' is ridiculous after the great series he had against Australia, Sri Lanka and India in 2010/11. 3 poor tests and he's out? He's got over 5000 runs at an average of 47 with 16 centuries compared with Hick's 3383 runs, average 31 with 6 centuries. Maybe 'Village Blacksmith' is jonesy2's new screen name?

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