Both Australia and England have been badly hit by injuries ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Following the conclusion of a seven-match ODI series, Australia have already replaced two players in their 15-man squad and England appear likely to do the same.
The list of players ruled out makes for interesting reading and you could form a handy squad from them: Shaun Marsh, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Michael Hussey, Stuart Broad, Nathan Hauritz, Xavier Doherty, Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Tremlett.
Add to that the fact that Ricky Ponting, Brad Haddin and Steve Smith are nursing injuries and you have a picture of two teams expected to feature prominently in the latter stages of the competition, in the beginning, at least, struggling to pick fully-fit teams. It has been mooted that if England don’t name replacement players, Andy Flower and potentially other members of the coaching staff will have to take the field in their warm-up matches.
The good news is that the tournament goes on for as long it does and that the quarter-finals don’t get underway until 23rd March, giving injured players six weeks to recover from any niggles. However, will England gamble on the bare bones of a squad doing just enough to get through to the quarter-finals or will they approach the tournament aiming to play their best/fittest team from the start?
Australia have been here before, of course. Ahead of the 2007 World Cup, they lost Brett Lee to injury. His replacement, Shaun Tait, had a wonderful tournament as they claimed their third title in a row. England coped without Kevin Pietersen for one game on their way to glory in the ICC World Twenty20 but what the recent series in Australia has made abundantly clear is that Australia’s strength in depth is far superior to England’s.
Without Swann, Broad and Bresnan, their attack looked toothless and they desperately missed Collingwood and Morgan in the middle order. Without ready-made replacements at the ready, they have some big decisions to make as they aim for an unprecedented hat-trick of ICC World Twenty20, Ashes and World Cup success.
UPDATE: India’s Praveen Kumar is now the latest player to be ruled out due to an elbow injury. India have replaced him with Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, who was, for many people, a surprise omission from the original squad.