Not long ago England’s Ashes preparations were always ruined by injuries. Whenever we discovered a world class talent, or a newcomer burst onto the scene, they’d always break down the month before the Ashes.
Our batting line-up used to depend on Graham Thorpe. So what used to happen during the Ashes build-up? Thorpe would break his back lifting a sofa or something.
The bowling was just as injury plagued. In the days when Angus Fraser was our only decent seamer, he’d need a hip replacement the week before the first test.
And even when we managed to get our best players on the park, they wouldn’t last the course. Darren Gough would randomly breakdown just minutes into contests.
It seemed to be a curse. Dominic Cork would pull a groin doing the Macarena the night before a key fixture, and Devon Malcolm would lose his glasses.
Fortunately it’s the Aussies who seem to drop like flies these days. The Twelfth Man used to laugh about England’s Bunch of Crocks, but with Michael Clarke’s back, and James Pattinson and Matt Cummins breaking down as regularly as rusty old Ladas, the boot’s generally on the other foot.
Having said that, England do have two rather large injury concerns at the moment. Although Graeme Swann is expected to be fit for the Ashes, there are no guarantees; he’s finding it hard to give his floating bone fragments the elbow.
And today the ECB announced that Kevin Pietersen will definitely miss the warm-up test series against New Zealand with his troublesome knee. His only first class cricket ahead of the Ashes will therefore be for Surrey – who will be captained by his best mate, Graeme Smith. What are the odds on Smith running out KP at every opportunity?
Although it’s best these injuries occur now – the last thing we need are injuries on the morning of the match – they’re far from ideal. Remember Glenn McGrath at Edgbaston in 2005?