Broad fitness concern for World T20
Stuart Broad will sit out England's next two T20s against West Indies in a bid to ensure his fitness for the World T20, with the captain revealing that he has been managing a knee problem with injections over the winter. Broad said after England's defeat in the first T20 that he was suffering from patellar tendonitis, which flared up during the third ODI in Antigua.
Broad downplayed the risk to his participation in the World T20, saying he "should be okay", but with less than two weeks until England's first game in Bangladesh, against New Zealand on March 22, it is cause for concern. Broad said he had already had "four or five" cortisone injections to his right knee, due to the workload on England's disastrous tour of Australia, and admitted that a long-term solution would have to be found.
"I've had injections for a while now, throughout the winter, it's been getting stiffer and stiffer," he said. "I caught my knee in the ground in Antigua and it swelled up. I struggled to move it a little bit, so I won't be playing the next couple. I should be okay assuming the injection works, which generally they do. It gradually got worse throughout the winter, with the amount of bowling I've been doing - no real break - so it's something I need to act on now to make sure I'm fit and firing for the World T20."
He conceded that an operation may be required at some point, though was hopeful of being able to take a full part in England's home season, after which there is only a limited-overs tour to Sri Lanka until the end of the year.
"I'll have to have a rehab period at some stage in the next 12 months, between six to ten weeks. But there's a decent period at the end of the English season which I can look at probably - or maybe four weeks in April," he said
"I can't keep waking up every day in agony, and surviving training. The injection should sort that out and if it means missing two Twenty20s in the West Indies when we've got a World Cup in Bangladesh, I'm not too frustrated about that."
After bowling only two overs during the West Indies innings, the first of which cost 19, Broad was visibly limping whilst at the crease, with England already on their way to a comprehensive defeat. As well as two more T20s in Barbados, England have two warm-up matches before they begin their World T20 campaign. Eoin Morgan - who has also been carrying an injury - will captain the side in Broad's absence.
No panic with the knee, had it a long time. The workload over the winter has got it to a point it needs treatment. 7 days should be fine— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) March 9, 2014
The wear and tear of life as a fast bowler has previously affected Broad's involvement with England. He wears special boots to manage a heel condition, which led to him leaving England's tour of India in 2012, and was forced out of the 2010-11 Ashes tour and the subsequent World Cup by stomach and rib injuries respectively.
In Australia this time around, having lost the Test series 5-0, Broad was given the first two ODIs off in order to rest. Since then he has played in six one-dayers and four T20s, as well as a warm-up match in the Caribbean. His importance to the side is not just as leader; he is also England's most-capped player and leading wicket-taker in T20 internationals.
England's 15-man World T20 squad currently contains Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach and Chris Jordan as the pace-bowling options, as well as the allrounder Ben Stokes. Harry Gurney, the Nottinghamshire left-arm seamer, was selected only for the West Indies tour and could now provide cover for Broad in the event of his condition worsening.
While Bresnan was a member of England's 2010 World T20 win and Dernbach has plenty of international experience, there are few other back-up options for the coach, Ashley Giles. Steven Finn and Boyd Rankin both suffered drastic losses of form in Australia and Chris Woakes has taken just two wickets with an economy of 10.27 in his four T20 internationals. James Anderson, the attack leader in Test cricket, has not played a T20 for England since 2009.
England are already likely to be without Joe Root for the World T20, due to a broken thumb sustained in Antigua, and Broad said that Morgan still was not 100% fit following a knee injury of his own. After a fourth T20 defeat in a row, England's preparations for Bangladesh could also do with some patching up.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here