England insist remains on course to play in the fifth Test against India with his broken nose despite a surprise non-appearance on their first day of practice at The Oval on Wednesday.
Joe Root joked that Broad was “milking” his injury by playing along with suggestions that he would need a Phantom of the Opera style facemask to take his place in England’s team for the last Test of the summer. But England still chose to play safe in their penultimate practice session at The Oval, with Broad staying in the pavilion while the other 12 members of the squad warmed up, fielded then bowled and batted in the nets.
The Nottinghamshire bowler, who produced his best Test performance for more than a year to set up during a brief innings, had been declared available for the fifth Test by the medical staff soon after returning from hospital. His nose was stitched up in the dressing room and he then went to hospital for confirmation that he had suffered no damage other than the break, leaving his captain, Alastair Cook, to collect his man of the match award on his behalf.
England have played down the possibility of Broad bowling and batting in a mask, although he is likely to wear a splint to protect his nose and hold his nasal bones in position.
“It’s not very pretty,” Root said. “He’s not got his boyband looks you’d normally associate with Stuart. He’s milking it definitely, as you’ll probably have seen on all the social network sites.
“But I’m sure he’ll be desperate to play on Friday. He’s obviously in good form, and will be wanting to finish the series strongly with the rest of us.”
India have received a timely boost after consecutive defeatswith the return to the nets of Ishant Sharma, who fired them to victory in the but has missed the last two games with an ankle injury. Aaron is expected to retain his place after bowling with genuine pace at Old Trafford, which would leave Pankaj Singh as the seamer most likely to make way should Ishant return.
India’s captain, MS Dhoni, was a notable absentee from their net session before lunch, but team officials confirmed he had been given the morning off for personal reasons – with one unconfirmed report suggesting he had visited a firing range.
The first three days of the match are sold out with a few thousand tickets remaining for the fourth day on Monday, but Surrey have not made their groundsman Lee Fortis available to discuss the nature of the pitch, as his Lancashire equivalent Matt Merchant did at Old Trafford last week.