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December 7, 2010
Stuart Broad has admitted that he knew his Ashes tour was over from the moment he began his second spell on Monday afternoon, as England's famous innings-and-71-run victory at Adelaide was tempered by the loss of one of the key members of their bowling attack.
Broad was ruled out of the tour shortly before play on the final day of the second Test, after the ECB chief medical officer, Nick Peirce, confirmed that he had suffered a torn abdominal muscle. He is due to fly back to England on Wednesday, where he will undergo a ten-week programme of rehabilitation, with a view to returning to fitness in time for the latter stages of the World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh that gets underway on February 19.
"Obviously I'm heartbroken. I'm distraught at leaving the tour," said Broad. "Within two or three balls of my spell, I knew I was in big trouble, and I immediately said to Jimmy Anderson, 'I might be struggling here'. I got through a few overs, but it felt like someone stabbing me in the stomach. I put a couple of bouncers in and I could hardly breathe. I knew my tour was over. I was going for broke then, and just trying to get a wicket before I was gone."
Broad briefly remained on the field after grimacing through his 11th over, but was off receiving treatment on the injury for much of the afternoon. While he was off the field, he bowled off a minimal run-up in the nets with a strap around his waist, and was seen lifting a medicine ball with considerable difficulty. He returned to the field late in the day, but did not bowl another over.
"I had an injection to see if I could get through this Test, bowling and do a job from one end, but the tear was too big, and it wasn't really feasible," said Broad. "I've been fortunate in my career, because I've been fairly injury free, but this is a blow. It's going to be hard to watch, but I will be watching - because the guys are playing fantastic cricket.
"The lads have a fantastic opportunity to win the Ashes, and I hope they will keep playing this sort of cricket without me. It will be hard to leave this changing room. It is a fantastic place to be, but it's a great opportunity for whoever takes my place. Everyone is capable of stepping up and delivering.
"My next focus is to get it 100% right for the World Cup and be fresh and ready to perform then," he added. "It's eight to 10 weeks' rehab, and the first World Cup game is nine weeks (away). But the thing about that World Cup is that it goes on for years, so even if I miss the first game I'll still be available for the end of it. But my family are coming out for Christmas, so we will probably cross like ships in the night."
England's captain, Andrew Strauss, admitted that Broad had known his fate before the results of the scan had been confirmed. "It was pretty clear last night what was likely to happen, so I had a couple of words with him," he said. "He's distraught, and I think we're all distraught that he's going to be leaving us because he's a big part of our side, not just on the field but off the field too.
Broad, 24, will also miss the seven-match ODI series that follows the Ashes, as his focus shifts to the second of England's twin peaks for the winter. "Stuart will return to England shortly to commence a rehabilitation programme and we expect him to make a full recovery in time for the World Cup next year," said Dr Peirce in an ECB statement.
"Playing for England in an Ashes series in Australia has been something I've dreamed of for a long time so to have that cut short by injury is devastating," said Broad. "So far the series has been everything I had anticipated and knowing I'll play no further part is quite hard to take. Given the way we had started the series I was looking forward to playing a leading role in England retaining the Ashes but that's not to be.
"Injuries happen and there's nothing I can do about it other than make sure I get stuck into rehabilitation and come back stronger in time for the World Cup next year. This winter is a big one for the England team so my focus will have to shift to preparing for the World Cup."
Despite claiming two wickets at 80.50 in the first two Tests, Broad's height and aggression will be sorely missed throughout the rest of the series. It means that England's tour match against Victoria at Melbourne, which gets underway on December 10, will take on an extra significance, with Chris Tremlett, Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan all competing for the vacancy.
"He's been one of the mainstays of our bowling attack for a while, and he's got all the ingredients to bowl well in Australia as well," said Strauss. "We're devastated for him but the show moves on, and those other three have got a chance to stake a claim and have a big impact on the series now.
"The likelihood is that all three of those will play in Melbourne, and we'll see which one is looking the most potent and the most suited for Perth, which is going to be important as well," added Strauss. "What happens in Melbourne will have some effect, but we've got to think what bowler is likely to make an impact."
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