• England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge

Broad shoulder was major worry

George Dobell
July 15, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
At one point it did not look like Stuart Broad would be fit enough to bowl © PA Photos
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Andy Flower, the England team director, has revealed that there were such serious concerns over the state of Stuart Broad's shoulder, following the blow from James Pattinson on the opening day at Trent Bridge, that the team physio spent the night with him to ensure he would be able to bowl.

Broad was struck on the right shoulder, the same one he injured diving during the Champions Trophy final and which required a cortisone injection, and was unable to take the new ball on the first evening.

He did not bowl until Australia's record-breaking last-wicket stand between Phillip Hughes and Ashton Agar was well established and sent down six expensive overs - although he did finally removed Agar for 98.

"We were really worried on that first night," Flower said. "It was very swollen and he and the medical team did a really good job of getting him back to bowl the following day. They worked through the night and didn't sleep much, but he should be fine for Lord's. The physio stayed with him."

From that moment on, however, Broad had a key role to play in the match by scoring 65 in England's second innings and claiming two key second-innings wickets of Shane Watson and Michael Clarke

That, though, did not stop questions being raised as to England's potential over-burdening reliance on James Anderson, who claimed 10 wickets in the match, although Flower was adamant that his team do not rest too heavily him.

Anderson claimed five wickets in each innings but was obliged to bowl 55.5 overs in draining heat as England won the first Investec Ashes Test by 14 runs. On the last day, with Australia inching closer to their target, Anderson delivered a 13-over opening spell that resulted in him having to leave the pitch with cramp. With Steven Finn proving expensive, however, Anderson was soon back on the field and took the wicket that sealed the victory.

While Flower accepted that Anderson had developed into a "great" bowler, he did not agree with the suggestion that England were over-reliant upon him. Flower was particularly keen to defend Finn, who endured a chastening final day, but had produced a couple of fine spells earlier in the game.

"It's not one-man performing," Flower said. "When you've got great players in your side they will affect games. For Jimmy Anderson to bowl more than 50 overs in the game and to take 10 wickets was a great example of skill and determination. But a lot of our guys stood up and performed well in this match.

"Steven Finn took crucial wickets in that first innings. We only had just over 200 on the board and he got Shane Watson early and Ed Cowan first ball. Those were crucial breakthroughs for us.

"That sort of striking is one of the things he's capable of with pace and bounce. He also bowled a really skilful spell of reverse swing against Michael Clarke and Steve Smith, beautiful outswing and almost got an lbw with inswing. So he made his contribution to this game as well."

He admitted that the performance of Graeme Swann at Trent Bridge - the offspinner claimed 4 for 165 in 63 overs in the match - had been disappointing, but praised Ian Bell's century as "perhaps" his best innings for England.

'I've seen a lot of very fine innings from Ian Bell," Flower said. "But in the context of what was a very tight game perhaps it was [his best]. Ian Bell was outstanding. It was a really skilful innings. But, more importantly, I think it was an innings full of courage and guts and resilience.

"No, I don't think Swann was at his best, I agree, but that was nothing to do with injuries.

"No-one will ever play perfect cricket, it's not the way the world works nor the game works. We played some excellent cricket. Bell was outstanding; Anderson was a great example of skill and determination. Those are things that stand out in my mind. Bell diving twice and Jonny Bairstow diving to keep Brad Haddin on strike in that final over. Those are the things I like thinking about."

Flower also defended Broad after he chose not to 'walk' to a thick outside edge that the umpire, Aleem Dar, missed.

"When I played cricket I didn't walk when I'd edged it so I'd be a hypocrite to say that all other players should walk," Flower said. "Most players leave it to the umpires to make the decision and I don't think there's anything wrong with that."

Meanwhile an ECB spokesman provided reassurance over the fitness of Matt Prior. England's wicketkeeper missed a Professional Cricketers' Association golf day on Monday citing some soreness in his Achilles, but the ECB insisted that Prior was simply resting through an abundance of caution and confirmed that no other wicketkeeper was on standby.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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