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Broad fit for opening Test

Sri Lanka England

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Stuart Broad has been declared fit to play in the first Test with Sri Lanka at Galle, which starts tomorrow.

The seamer sprained his left ankle and missed England’s first tour game, but sent down 23 overs in their other.

Broad did not bowl yesterday to rest the joint, but turned his arm over today and is ready for the opening Test of two.

While the 25-year-old’s fitness decides one selection issue for the tourists, they must still choose whether Broad will be one of four or five specialist bowlers.

With Ravi Bopara previously expected to take the dropped Eoin Morgan’s place, but now unlikely to bowl due to a side strain, captain Andrew Strauss and team director Andy Flower have a tough call over how to balance the attack in the intense heat.

“You’ve always got to consider in these conditions how much strain you put on your bowling attack and how much they can contend with, so that’s obviously a factor in deciding what team we play,” said Strauss.

“The principle is always the same, you pick the side you think is most likely to win you the game, and you’ve got to adjust that sometimes according to the conditions and the wicket and this is no different.”

Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad goes through his paces during a training session in which he proved his fitness for tomorrow's opening Test against Sri Lanka

Whatever team the tourists pick, Strauss does not intend to let his side’s number one status distract them from the challenge of winning in Sri Lanka.

England ascended to the top of the Test rankings last summer by whitewashing India at home, but were subsequently beaten 3-0 by Pakistan and are being hotly pursued by South Africa.

Series victory by one Test will increase England’s points rating, but Strauss is more focussed on the rubber itself than its implications.

More on the skipper’s mind is the fact that England have won just three Tests out of 11 in Sri Lanka and have not taken a five-day game in their last two tours.

“I think we have got a point to prove and we do have to bounce back from those results against Pakistan, but we’re not focusing on our world ranking at the moment,” he said.

“That’s not of great consequence to us. If you focus too much on that then I think you’re taking your eye off what is important, which is to try and win each game you play.

“We know the extent of the challenge here and we know how good Sri Lanka are, especially in their own conditions.

“That’s plenty for us to focus on. The rankings will take care of themselves.”

Strauss and his fellow specialist batsmen endured one of their worst collective series in recent memory against Pakistan as they were dismissed on six occasions for less than 260.

Morgan paid for his failures with his place in the squad, but the spotlight is now on those who remain to show they have conquered their problems against spin bowling.

That they must do so on a Galle pitch that was reported to the International Cricket Council last year for providing excessive turn could be considered unfortunate, but Strauss has no issue over either his batsmen or the surface.

“There’s always pressure on the batsmen. We underperformed in the UAE but to a certain extent the batting unit has performed outstandingly well for a long time,” he said.

“I’ve got no concerns about our ability to bounce back and get big scores over here, but there’s always an element of pressure in international cricket.

“The history of the wicket is that it obviously tends to deteriorate at the back end a little bit but, I think we’re looking at it as being a pretty good Test match wicket as (Sri Lanka skipper) Mahela (Jayawardene) said. I don’t think there are any massive demons in it.”

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