Minor injury scare for Broad
Stuart Broad had to leave England practice this morning after being hit on the left ankle while batting in the nets.
The 25-year-old seam bowling all-rounder, a certain selection for the first Test against Pakistan in Dubai, had the injury iced, but was still expected to join in with light fielding drills.
An England team spokesman confirmed there were no major concerns over the injury, and it is hoped Broad, man of the series in the home Tests against India last summer, will be able to bowl tomorrow.
There was no need for a scan, and Broad soon confirmed via Twitter that the injury is not going to trouble him for long.
“Afternoon with my foot up being iced,” he wrote. “Jimmy (Anderson) got me with an inswinging yorker in the nets ... bowling tomorrow, so no worries...”
Anderson too made it clear that England appear satisfied Broad’s participation in the first match of a three-Test series is in no doubt.
“It’s just part and parcel of cricket. You do get the odd knock from time to time. Unfortunately, the ball is quite hard - and it was a bad shot. But I think he’s fine.”
Even so, Broad - who was rested for England’s second warm-up win over a Pakistan Cricket Board XI, having proved his well-being in the first - would have benefited from bowling today as well as tomorrow.
“It’s not ideal preparation for him not bowling today, but we’ve done plenty of bowling over the last couple of weeks,” said Anderson.
“So we’re in good condition as a bowling unit, and I don’t think Stuart will be too worried.”
There are other considerations for England - and top of that list will be how to consolidate their newly-found International Cricket Council Test number one status, in alien conditions which have previously proved beyond them.
They have not played Test cricket in the United Arab Emirates before, but the Middle East is little different to the Asian sub-continent, where they have regularly struggled in all formats.
“We want to stay number one in the world,” said Anderson. “To do that, we’re going to have to win here and in Sri Lanka and then in India at the end of the year.
“It’s going to be a tough ask for us. But the best teams in the world do win out here.”
Anderson and Broad have key roles to play, as will off-spinner Graeme Swann on pitches expected to produce attritional cricket in which wickets are hard won throughout.
“It’s going to be a tough job for us, especially the seamers to help out our spinners,” said Anderson.
“We hope we can chip away with wickets, but our main job is to dry up runs.
“We’re pretty confident. We know how to get 20 wickets out here. We hope all it takes now is to go out on the field and show people what we can do.”