England are considering resting Stuart Broad for the fourth Investec Test against India at Old Trafford, according to the Daily Mirror.
Head coach Peter Moores is keen to avoid aggravating Broad’s knee injury that has been troubling him since the turn of the year. The 28-year-old suffers from tendonitis in his right knee.
The Notts bowler has been taking hot baths to relieve the pain, which was particularly bad in the third Test, which England won by 266 runs to level the series at 1-1.
Broad was instrumental in that victory, but were he to play a game too far, he could risk causing himself problems long-term.
As one of the dressing room’s leading figures, the T20 captain has recently been linked with the Test captaincy, a position currently held by Alistair Cook. However, his injuries would make such a change difficult.
He was forced to miss two ODI series earlier this year, against the West Indies and Sri Lanka. He was also a doubt for England’s disastrous T20 World Cup campaign, which culminated in a shock defeat to the Netherlands.
Ahead of the current series, Moores admitted either James Anderson or Broad might not play in all five Tests because of the amount of cricket they have already played this season. Both look tired in the Three Lions’ unsuccessful two Tests versus Sri Lanka, and the overworked pair were also a factor in England choosing not to enforce the follow-on in the win against India.
That would be good news for India’s batsmen, but England will be buoyed by the news that Anderson is free for the final two Tests, having been cleared of pushing Ravindra Jadeja.
Had Anderson been suspended for the final two Tests, Broad would have had little choice but to persevere. England were reportedly waiting on the outcome of his hearing before deciding on their final line-up for Thursday.
Regardless of Anderson, the question remains whether they are in a position to be resting players. If the third Test had had a different result, then it would surely have been impossible for Moores to consider chopping and changing.
The concern then, is that they have already grown complacent after finally ending a year-long run without a win. It could already be something of a new look attack, with Steven Finn being drafted into the squad to replace the injured Liam Plunkett.
As for India, Ishant Sharma – England’s tormentor at Lord’s with figures of 7-71 – will also miss out. The Men in Blue’s attack looked lost without the 25-year-old at the Rose Bowl, but Duncan Fletcher’s side will no doubt see Broad’s potential absence in the same vein.