Broad has to manage heel injury

  • Last Updated: February 8 2013, 12:06 GMT

Stuart Broad knows he may have to bowl with pain in his left heel for the rest of his career unless medics can somehow identify an effective treatment for his rare injury.

Broad has to manage heel injury

Even as Broad prepares to lead his country in Saturday's Twenty20 at Eden Park, the first international fixture of their New Zealand tour, England's medics scour the world to uncover a cure for the lacerated fat-pad at the bottom of his foot.

They have so far drawn a blank and Broad must therefore get through with the help only of a specially-fitted left boot to minimise the wear and tear on the tissue already weakened.

He appears resigned to managing the condition which first surfaced in India three months ago and cut short his involvement in the Test tour there before ruling him out of two subsequent Twenty20s and a one-day international series.

At 26, that could mean another decade of discomfort for a cricketer who has already had to sit out some of England's recent high-profile engagements because of other injuries but has often proved a match-winner when at his best.

Broad edged closer to that during England's warm-up campaign here, taking three wickets in both matches against a New Zealand XI in Whangarei - including a hat-trick in the victory with which they began their trip.

He is thankful to begin his return in cricket's shortest format, which requires him to bowl only four overs a match, before three ODIs and three Tests to follow over the next seven weeks.

The cruel truth, however, is that more pain is likely to be an inevitable occupational hazard.

"If I did pretty much anything else in the world but bowl seam it would be fine," said Broad.

"I don't feel it walking around or running or batting - it's just fast bowling."

He appears determined to retain a healthy perspective, even though there is no medium-term prospect of much respite.

"It's not a major problem. I don't get too down about it," he added.

"They're speaking to specialists all over the world trying to find what they can do.

"There's no operation or injection suitable for it. But it's manageable at the minute and we're doing pretty well with it.

"It's going to be a long-term thing. It's not going to go away overnight, it's something I just need to manage.

"It's been pretty good for the last two weeks of bowling and touch wood it can stay that way for a bit."

To that end, Broad can only do as he is told - and then grit his teeth in his delivery stride.

"I've found good ways to look after it. But it's one of those things that's not going to go away with a week's rest, or a year's rest," he said.

"It's just something to look after and be careful with.

"I use gel pads to protect it.

"With the fat-pad soft tissue, you can't inject it because it just dissolves. There's not a huge amount of treatment at the minute for it."

Broad began to feel what was first thought as bruising in his heel in Mumbai in November - and it took time, it seems, to reach the correct diagnosis.

"It's rare. The doctor had never seen it before," said Broad.

"It just came through landing on a bad foothold in India in the warm-up game and it's never really recovered from that.

"But if I wake up and I can bowl, then I'm fit to go.

"It's fine at the moment and you can only really take it day by day."

Broad has had to employ the same sort of equanimity over his bowling form in recent months.

His injury clearly played its part in India, where he had precious little success; yet suddenly he is back in the wickets.

"Cricket's a bit like that," he added.

"You can have times where it goes your way, others when it doesn't.

"As long as you keep doing your things in training ... you put yourself in the best position to succeed."

After his encouraging spells in Whangarei, it would be a priceless confidence boost for Broad to continue the progress on the international stage.

"I'm really excited about tomorrow," he said.

"I think it's going to be a fantastic atmosphere here.

"With the small boundaries, the bowlers will have to be a bit wise and clever.

"It will certainly be an exciting spectacle."


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