Cricket: Injury set to end Broad's Ashes
Stuart Broad is due to undergo a fitness test today which is expected to confirm he will miss the rest of the Ashes series after sustaining an abdominal injury.
Broad is facing up to the prospect of not playing in the series again after the second Test in Adelaide, and could be out of action for up to six weeks, depriving England of their new-ball bowler and a batsman capable of scoring hundreds down the order.
England officials said at the end of play yesterday that Broad would be assessed before play this morning but sources have indicated he has suffered a torn stomach muscle, an injury that normally takes up to six weeks to heal.
If that is the case, it is highly unlikely Broad will be fit for the fifth and final Test which begins in Sydney on January 3.
Broad suffered the injury while bowling yesterday and spent long periods of the afternoon session off the field receiving treatment. He returned to field at fine leg in the evening but did not bowl again as Steven Finn shouldered the main workload in his absence.
The news will be a bitter blow for Broad, who had been hoping to emulate his father Chris' achievement of winning the Ashes in Australia.
Broad has endured a mixed series so far. He was dismissed first ball in his only innings as the third victim of Peter Siddle's hat-trick in the first Test at the Gabba, and while his bowling has been threatening at times, he has taken only two wickets at an average of 80.50.
However, Broad's pace and bounce will be missed in Perth, the venue for the third Test, where Chris Tremlett is likely to make his first Test appearance for three years. The 6ft 7ins Tremlett is the bowler most likely to replicate Broad's lift and he is in form, having taken seven wickets in his only appearance of the tour so far against Australia A in Hobart.
England play Victoria at the MCG in a three-day match starting on Friday where Tremlett, Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan will have the opportunity to stake their claim for Broad's place.
Shahzad initially joined the squad as cover for James Anderson as he recovered from a rib injury sustained during a pre-tour boot camp in Germany.
He became a permanent member of the touring party after bowling well in Hobart, and his ability to bowl reverse swing when the Kookaburra ball goes soft will be an attraction to the selectors. But picking Shahzad would mean the inexperienced Finn opening the bowling with Anderson.
Bresnan is the best batsman of the three and replaced the absent Broad in last summer's series against Bangladesh. Bresnan has a Test batting average of over 40 but has played four of his five matches against Bangladesh, a far cry from the pressure of an Ashes series.
Broad and Anderson have built an effective partnership combining skills that complement one another. The taller Broad relies on pace, bounce and seam movement while Anderson is among world cricket's best swing bowlers. Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin described their performance on the third day of the first Ashes Test as the "hardest bowling you could possibly face in Test cricket" as they tried to break his partnership with Mike Hussey.
England last night required six wickets on the last day to win the second Test after Kevin Pietersen reached a career-best score and removed Michael Clarke to have Australia struggling to avoid defeat at 238-4. England dismissed Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson yesterday after declaring at 620-5 in Adelaide.
Clarke and Mike Hussey held up the victory push with a 104-run stand before Pietersen, who earlier top-scored with 227, dismissed Clarke in the last action of the day.
Australia's hopes of avoiding defeat may rest with the weather. Showers and thunderstorms were forecast. (© Daily Telegraph, London)