Just prior to undergoing surgery for his chronic knee problem, England pace bowler Stuart Broad has announced that he will be back in time for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Broad managed to battle through the five-Test series against India, which England won 3-1. During that series, Broad bowled extremely well as he took 19 wickets at a brilliant average of 23.
However, he also suffered an injury scare during the Test series as he suffered a fractured nose after being hit by a bouncer from Varun Aaron during the third day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
Even though Broad will miss England's next couple of tours, which include a limited overs tour of Sri Lanka and an ODI tri-series involving Australia and India in the land down under, he opted to do the surgery now so that he could represent his country in the World Cup.
In fact, Broad stated that he was actually looking forward to some time off since England have played a lot of cricket this summer. Prior to the ongoing series against India, England hosted Sri Lanka for two Tests, five ODIs and a one-off Twenty20 International.
"The World Cup doesn't start until mid-February, so it is a huge amount of time," Broad told Sky Sports. "But there's no doubt that I will be, unless something drastic goes wrong, fit for that tour of Australia.
"I'm actually looking forward to it (the layoff) now. I'm a bit nervous about the operation, but the thought of having a bit of time to get really fit and strong leading into what is such a busy 18 months, it will be the best thing for me."
Broad also admitted that he was nervous about the surgery since it is the first one of his career. However, he knows that even though he will have to endure the pain and long road to recovery, his international career will still be extended by a few years as a result of it.
"At 28, my body will recover better than if I was 31 or 32," he said. "It's been lined up for a little while to have this operation done. It's my first ever one, so I'm naturally nervous.
"But I knew an op would be required at some stage. I knew that I wouldn't be able to play for the next seven or eight years with the problem I had got in my knee.
"It's something that needed to be done – and it should give me a new lease of life for the next few years."
Coming back to the subject of his nose, Broad stated that he no longer felt any pain "except for the odd sneeze". But, he conceded that he had never been more nervous to go out and bat against the same bowler that had severely damaged his face and renowned good looks.
"It's a little bit clunky," he said. "There are no real visual signs except for the two little scars where the stitches are repairing.
"I'm not suffering any sort of pain for it except for the odd sneeze. The nose didn’t particularly hurt, but I got ear ache. I don’t know if that was just the pressure releasing or whatever.
"One thing I will say is I was very glad to get back on the horse, so to speak. If I had gone three or four months without playing any cricket after the blow, I would have probably built it up more in my mind.
"I must admit, I’ve never been more nervous when going out to bat. Obviously with a broken nose in two places and going back to face the bowler again, it was a bit nerve-wracking. But, to get 30-odd and have a bit of a whack gave me a bit of confidence for the future, that’s for sure."
The 28-year-old also admitted that he was gutted to see the national team give up an unassailable 3-0 lead in the ongoing ODI series against India. The one outstanding problem that almost everyone seems to have highlighted is the fact that England's batsmen have struggled against spin bowling yet again.
This could be a major problem for the World Cup, especially when they play subcontinent sides like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
"It's really tough watching," Broad said. "I was at Trent Bridge (for the third ODI) the other day and I was nervous before the game. I think when you can't do anything about it then it's worse. You've got no control. You are obviously an England fan and you want them to do well.
"But India have played some pretty good cricket, haven't they? The wickets have been useful for the spinners they have in their side, and they've made full use of those conditions. After the Test series England were on fire, but India have come back strongly."
Despite their struggles against spin and an embarrassing performance against India, Broad still expects England to do well in the World Cup. Interestingly enough, he noted that young talents still have time to make their marks and "put their hands up for selection", which could hint at changes coming prior to the start of the biggest 50-over tournament in the world.
"We are building towards the World Cup and that is still some time away," he said. "There is still time for players to put their hands up for selection, even those outside the set-up, so it’s an exciting time to be involved as an England cricketer.
"There has been a lot of stuff in the papers recently about the troubles for English cricket, but we have not played our strongest side since the ICC Champions Trophy last summer, and we got to the final then of a world tournament.
"We will be fresh and very focused on the World Cup. I expect us to do well."
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