–ICC Champions Trophy semi-final
(BBC) England seam bowler Stuart Broad will have a late fitness test ahead of today’s ICC Champions Trophy semi-final against Australia at Centurion.
Broad complained of tightness in his left buttock during Tuesday’s defeat by New Zealand, and a scan revealed a torn muscle in his buttock.
England will also make a late decision on wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who has missed the last two games with illness.
He could be replaced by Steve Davies, who has joined up with the squad.
Team director Andy Flower said they had already approached the International Cricket Council – who must approve any replacement to the squad – about bringing Davies in for Prior.
“Matt’s over the worst of that illness, but he’s still nowhere near 100%,” explained Flower.
“We have chatted to the ICC about replacing him in the squad and the protocols involved to do so, and that option is still available.”
Batsman Eoin Morgan has kept wicket for the last two games, but either Davies or a recovered Prior could play, probably in place of Ravi Bopara at Centurion.
After having his scan, Broad joined yesterday’s practice under the supervision of physio Kirk Russell and team doctor Mike Stone, but halted during a series of exercises and seemed to be struggling with his movements.
The trio were joined by Flower and captain Andrew Strauss, who held further discussions before Broad simulated running between the wickets with a bat – but he did not appear to be moving freely, and left for the dressing room with Russell and Stone.
“He bowled a few overs at full pace in the nets and practised running between the wickets and had a little fielding test,” Flower told BBC Sport.
“He has got a little tear in one of the muscles in his backside, so he’s not 100%.
“But we’re going to give him a little more time to see if he can be fit for the game, and give him another test in the morning.
“He’s an important player in our side, who’s just hitting his straps in this tournament, but if we can’t get him in we’ve got other players who can take his place.”
If Broad is unable to feature, Tim Bresnan’s all-round abilities could see him edge out fellow seamer Graham Onions, whose inclusion would lengthen England’s tail.
Another option would be to name Adil Rashid as a second spinner.
“Bresnan’s probably the obvious replacement as a first-change bowler, but we’ll make that decision tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Australia have been granted permission from the ICC to add batsman David Hussey to their squad as cover for injured vice-captain Michael Clarke, who has returned to Australia with a back injury.
But Hussey appears unlikely to play at such short notice against England, although he may offer them batting cover in the event that they make Monday’s final.
Having played the same side in all three group games, seamers Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger are expected to miss out again, along with batsman Adam Voges.
Australia will go into the match as clear favourites, but spinner Nathan Hauritz says he has been impressed with England’s revival since their 6-1 thrashing in the recent one-day internationals series.
“We played seven games back-to-back against each other and it can get a bit monotonous and draining at times,” he said. “It was a fresh start for England over here and they’ve done really well.
“They have obviously looked at a few different areas, seen what they need to do and it’s worked for them so far.”
The defending champions booked their meeting with Andrew Strauss’ team by scrambling a bye off the final ball to beat Pakistan by two-wickets on Wednesday to finish top of Group A.
“We knew if we tied the game we were going through anyway so it didn’t really matter what happened on the last ball, but we still want to win every game,” Hauritz added.
“It doesn’t bother me who we play, we’ve been playing some good cricket recently. It’s good to play England because we know their games and they know ours but it’s a new game and a new venue.”
England captain Strauss said the one-day series thrashing by Australia had been a “chastening experience” and the players were keen to put the record straight.
“Leaving British shores and coming over here, the guys felt a huge weight of expectation lifted off their shoulders,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It was a chastening experience against Australia in the one dayers and everyone had a point to prove that we were better than we showed against Australia.
“We’ve had a couple of great victories over Sri Lanka and South Africa, and another over Australia would make it even more special.”
He said the mauling in the one-day series after the Ashes was certainly affecting how the team approached the Champions Trophy, and it could have a more long-term impact.
“We hadn’t played to our potential against Australia and didn’t want to make the same mistake twice,” he said.
“We realised that to live with some of the top teams you can’t play a conservative game, you have to go out and take them on – if it doesn’t come off, at least you gave it a go.
“We’ll be looking to continue that – long term, it’s crucial to continue in that direction.”
England (from): Andrew Strauss (capt), Joe Denly, Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (wk), Ravi Bopara, Luke Wright, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson, Tim Bresnan, Graham Onions, Adil Rashid.
Australia (from): Shane Watson, Tim Paine (wk), Ricky Ponting (capt), Mike Hussey, Callum Ferguson, Cameron White, James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Nathan Hauritz, Peter Siddle, Adam Voges, Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger, David Hussey.
Umpires: Billy Bowden, Aleem Dar, Tony Hill (third umpire), Asad Rauf (fourth umpire).