NEWS

Stuart Broad set to be fit for Test series

June 30, 2017

England bowler Stuart Broad is on course to win his fitness battle to play in the first Test of the series against South Africa, starting next Thursday (June 6th). 
 
Head coach Trevor Bayliss told BBC Sport he expects the Nottinghamshire star to feature for his county against Surrey in Saturday's One Day Cup final at Lord's following a heel injury, and that he will be available when the Test series starts at the same venue on Thursday.
 
A fit Broad will be a big boost for county and country alike, particularly after Jake Ball was ruled out of both Lord's games with a knee injury.
 
Bayliss acknowledged that the most difficult decisions for the selectors will concern the batting. He offered his backing to 20-year-old Lancashire opener Haseeb Hameed, who impressed in his first Tests in India during the winter but has not yet made a half-century this season. 
 
The Australian coach said: "I think he's got the attitude that you put him up a level and give him the confidence that we are standing by him and I think he's got the type of game that can come good."
 
Another player who could be included is the in-form Gary Ballance, who lost his place last winter but has been averaging 101.88 in the County Championship this season.
 
Speaking about his potential inclusion, Bayliss remarked: "It wouldn't be a gamble, he's played at this level before and done well at this level before, and he's probably been the form player of the competition."
 
Fans booking corporate hospitality for the Kia Oval Test a month from now may be particularly keen to see who the selectors pick, as well as what position new captain Joe Root bats in. Bayliss has expressed a preference for him to bat at number three. 
 
Former skipper Alastair Cook's position is one that is not in doubt, and his recent form has been exceptional, culminating in a score of 193 for table-topping Essex this week against Middlesex in the County Championship.
 
The match, one of a round of fixtures played with a pink ball to prepare players for the historic day-night Edgbaston Test in August, saw Essex increase their lead at the top of the LV= Championship table with an innings win after Essex collapsed on the final day.
 
South African spinner Steve Harmer was the star of the show with 9-95 in the second innings as Middlesex lost their last five wickets for ten runs on the final evening. 
 
Remarkably, Harmer is not a player fans will see in action this summer for the Proteas, who included Keshav Maharaj as their only specialist spinner.
 
Their squad will also be missing star batsman AB de Villiers - believed to be on the brink of Test retirement - and the injured veteran fast bowler Dale Steyn. However, the series will be the first chance for English spectators to see Kagiso Rabada, the obvious heir to Steyn's mantle as the leader of the attack and widely regarded as the best fast bowler to emerge in international cricket for several years. 
 
New faces include opener Heino Kuhn, middle-order batsman Aiden Markram and all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo, who played in the recent Champions Trophy and the 50-over series against England before that. 

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