England injury concerns

Another England fast bowler has gone down with a mild injury as Stuart Broad bowled only ten overs in England’s warmup match before bruising a heel. He was actually expected to miss the last warmup anyway and this means that if he is fit for the first Test he will go in having hardly bowled a ball in a competitive match. Steven Finn is also still a doubt for both the last warmup and the first Test and he looks less likely to be fit then Broad, so England will at best be going into the first Test with only one member of their pace attack both fit and prepared. England do at least have strong reserves; Tim Bresnan is no stranger to the Test side and has already made a strong case to replace Finn.

If Broad misses the first Test then it will be down to one of Graham Onions, Stuart Meaker or possibly Monty Panesar to replace him. Panesar is the least likely as Samit Patel will already be playing (and actually took three wickets against Mumbai A), but despite the extra spinner probably not being the best balance in India England should pick whoever is most likely to take wickets. In general this won’t be an extra spinner, but with two of the top three pace bowlers out that may cease to be the case. Certainly I think they should all play in the final warmup along with Bresnan. I expect Jimmy Anderson will miss out as he played in the first two matches and Patel might rest as well to allow Graeme Swann another match.

That would make for something of a bowler-heavy XI, but with Nick Compton’s unbeaten fifty in the second innings against Mumbai A they should not now have any more questions to answer with respect to the batting. I see no reason why the top six should not be Cook, Compton, Trott, Pietersen, Bell and Patel unless someone picks up an injury in the final warmup. England, and Flower specifically, like to play to win in the warmups and that is a good thing. But in this case with question marks still hovering over the bowling I think it is a better idea to make sure that all of the possible replacements have a match worth of bowling ahead of the first Test and to fully assess who should play in case Broad turns out not to be fit.

What I suspect is more likely is that Patel will play and Panesar won’t and that England will try to play an XI as close as possible to the one who will play in the first Test with Meaker for Broad being the only difference. I think that Onions will be the one to come into the side if Broad is not fit, but that England will simply take that for granted rather than try to give him another match.

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