So yet another injury has hit England's ODI side. After being decimated in the Australian ODI series, this England World Cup squad is now dropping like a medieval village after a plague rat wanders into town. The latest victim to England's injury curse is Stuart Broad.
This injury is annoying rather than anything else. In the past few years Broad has grown into a very fine One Day bowler with a variety of tricks and is a genuine threat to opposition batsmen. His 4 fer against South Africa the other day underlines his importance to this England team, as a 'pressure' bowler (ie bowling at the death, or being thrown the ball in tight situations) which emphasises the trust that Cap'n Strauss places in him.
Bearing in mind that England's bowling has been distinctly poor thus far, the fact that Broad has so far come out in some credit does show he will be a big loss if he is to leave the tournament. We don't know how severe his injury is, but a side strain for a fast bowler often isn't a trivial issue, so chances are he's played his last at this tournament.
So if he is to go home, who should replace him in the squad? Well, in the short term, Ajmal Shahzad will likely come in for the Bangladesh game on Friday. Chris Tremlett has been sitting on the bench waiting for the inevitable fast bowling injury as the 16th man in the squad, so we'd assume Trem would be selected to the squad. However, given the fact England clearly lack an all-rounder (something every other nation has in abundance), it would be worth thinking outside the box rather than the 'safe' option of picking Tremlett to carry drinks with Wright and Tredwell.
Some nations have been playing four spinners, some three, most two. England have fielded one (Graeme Swann) and someone bowling darts (Mick Yardy). To say Yardy has been ineffective may be putting it mildly, so there is a real need for England to send for a spinner who actually tries to turn it. Adil Rashid would be an obvious choice - he has topped bowling lists in county cricket over the last however long, and has a couple of FC hundreds to his name, which shows he knows which end of the bat to hold. But is he good enough to bat in the top seven (where he'd need to be)? Someone who would be a better batsman (more than able to bat as a specialist, as well as offering spinning overs) would be Samit Patel. He's obviously international class, as his ODI five-fer suggests, but the obvious fitness issue means it would be a massive climb down from the selectors to pick him. Despite repeated warnings to sort himself out he hasn't bothered, which hardly suggests a brilliant attitude. Both would be options, and I'd be happy with either.
But may I proffer another name? Broad is a fast bowler, and England will want to go in with three seamers into any given match. England need a genuine allrounder who can turn games with the bat or ball. He may have never played internationally, but step forward Peter Trego. The Somerset allrounder can absolutely dominate attacks with bruising strokes - and the nice flat pitches being used would be right up his street. While his bowling may not quite be there, I reckon he'd be good to chip in with a couple of handy wickets along the way. He may be unproven internationally, but his performances in big games for Somerset suggest he has the mental fortitude to step straight into a World Cup and perform.
I'd like to see Trego in the England side (and hope it happens anyway post-World Cup) as it would give a lot more balance, and some big-hitting down the order. However, whoever I endorse is irrelevant, as Chris Tremlett will get selected. So there we are.