LONDON: England could be without both Stuart Broad and James Anderson in a home Test for the first time in nearly a decade following a double injury setback at Lord’s.
Broad, 35, has been ruled out of the rest of the five-match series against India after pulling up with a calf problem ahead of the second Test at Lord’s starting from Thursday, which could have marked his 150th appearance in the format.
Meanwhile the 39-year-old Anderson is struggling with a thigh problem sustained on Wednesday. Broad suffered his injury warming-up on Tuesday.
With England set to alter their top-order and Moeen Ali in line for a recall as a spin-bowling all-rounder, the hosts could make several changes to the side that drew a rain-marred first Test at Trent Bridge — Broad’s home ground — last week.
Broad’s 524 wickets make him England’s second-most successful Test bowler behind longtime new-ball partner Anderson, whose 621 are an all-time record for any fast bowler at this level.
“England seamer Stuart Broad has sustained a tear to his right calf and has been ruled out of the Test series against India,” said an England and Wales Cricket Board statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, the ECB announced that Saqib Mahmood, uncapped at Test level, had been called up as cover for Broad.
Mahmood, who has played seven One-day Internationals and nine Twenty20 Internationals, now joins Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Craig Overton and all-rounder Sam Curran in vying for a place in England’s pace attack.
England have not played a Test without either Anderson or Broad since October 2016 and it is nine years since they both missed one on home soil — six months before current captain Joe Root made his Test debut.
The only survivor from that match still left in the England squad is Jonny Bairstow.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, before it was announced that Broad would play no further part in the series, Bairstow said: “It would be a big loss, naturally, because they’ve got over a thousand Test wickets between them.”
Anderson and Broad’s injuries are bound to leave the ECB facing fresh questions over a domestic fixture schedule which left both bowlers short of match practice, neither of whom now plays in limited-overs matches, heading into a showpiece series in the absence of red-ball county cricket.
Nevertheless, Yorkshire batsman Bairstow added: “I think with the nature of professional sport there is going to be injuries at times, there is going to be illness, it can happen overnight and you’ve got to be adaptable within the group.
“When we’ve seen that previously in the summer, in the Pakistan series, there were opportunities that arose for other people coming in and they rose to those challenges.” Bairstow was referring to a one-day series where England won 3-0 despite having to select an entirely new squad following a Covid-19 outbreak within their camp.
Mahmood was the star of that campaign with nine wickets.
The 24-year-old is the second additional call-up to the England squad following Moeen.
Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire batsman Haseeb Hameed could force his way into a top three where both Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley have been struggling.
India captain Virat Kohli, meanwhile, said how best to take 20 wickets rather than extra runs would be the main consideration when it came to replacing Shardul Thakur for the second Test.
Pace-bowling all-rounder Thakur was ruled out on Wednesday with a hamstring strain.
Paceman Ishant Sharma or spinning all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin, neither of whom played in last week’s rain-affected first Test, could replace Thakur, who took four wickets — two in each innings — at Trent Bridge.
Ashwin has five Test hundreds to his credit but with left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja making a fifty at Nottingham in a match where India’s tailenders added valuable runs, Kohli said: “That already makes our batting a bit deeper and the lower order contributed with the bat as well. We are very comfortable as a batting unit and we don’t feel we might be a batsman short if Shardul doesn’t play.”
Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2021