Melbourne, February 4, 2011
England coach Andy Flower says Tim Bresnan's tour-ending calf injury is the biggest worry for his team ahead of the upcoming World Cup.
The English play the final one-day international of their marathon Ashes tour at Perth's WACA Ground on Sunday, before heading home for what is only a brief break for most of the players.
The 15-man English squad for the World Cup departs on February 12 and five members of that squad are currently injured, including Bresnan.
Disconcertingly, all five are valuable members of the attack, the others being Paul Collingwood (back), Stuart Broad (stomach), Graeme Swann (back), Ajmal Shahzad (hamstring), while Chris Tremlett would probably be the obvious late inclusion if any of that group failed to prove their fitness, but he too is sidelined by a side strain.
Flower said Bresnan's calf was the biggest concern.
"Probably it's Bresnan, considering the sight of his injury, just above his Achilles tendon in his lower calf," Flower said when asked which player was in most doubt.
"But he's not a man who has suffered injuries, well not many injuries, in the past and hopefully he will recover very quickly and be ready somewhere near the start."
Flower admitted the injuries were far from ideal so close to the tournament, which starts in under three weeks.
"Of course the timing of them getting back to full fitness is important for the start of the World Cup," Flower said.
"We can't be absolutely certain of that at this stage but we are monitoring them on a daily basis."
The Ashes tour has dragged on beyond three months and Collingwood was the fifth player to fly home during the seven-match ODI series, while Broad was sent back to the UK during the Test series.
Flower had no doubt the length of the tour was the reason for the spate of injuries and that England's World Cup preparation had suffered as a result.
He said he would like to be consulted on his team's playing schedule in future, although he admitted this wasn't always feasible. "Without a doubt the length of the tour is a reason for the injuries," he said.
"We've been here over three months now and with the intensity at which the guys play their cricket, and with the intensity that we demand in training, it is no surprise that people will pick up injuries and break down at the end of a long, hard tour.
"It would be quite sensible to look at how these tours are set up, especially this close to a World Cup, however, these are the schedules that we are given and we will deal with them as well as we can."