The one positive I take out of a calf injury ruling me out of the rest of the summer is that I will get the chance to go to Australia in peak physical condition.
The Ashes gives me a very strong focus and there is no reason why I cannot board the plane in November the fittest I’ve ever been. I never get a period in which I can just go to the gym, not worry about having to bowl, just train the body. That’s now my aim.
With any injury, the first few days are the most important and so for me, other than popping back into Lord’s for an ultrasound on Friday, that has meant icing the calf every hour, keeping my right foot raised and compressing the calf with Tubigrip.
Stuart Broad is set to miss the rest of the India series this summer suffering with calf problem
England have hit back against India, leading by 27 runs after Joe Root his a stunning 180
It’s important to keep weight off it, eat really well, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
The recovery mission starts from the moment the injury occurs and that helps the body recover as efficiently as possible. I am on crutches, wearing a moon boot and unable to drive for a month. I am sure it will please Mollie no end to have to ferry cups of tea to me while I lay on the couch.
Not that I am in any rush. Now that I am 35, I am very realistic about rehabilitation and know that soft-tissue injuries take longer to heal than others. And I have always erred on the side of caution. If the book says recovery will take a week, I will take 10 days. I have been told I will need 10 to 12 weeks to get back to full fitness.
The most frustrating aspect was that the injury was incurred so innocuously. I have jumped a thousand knee-high hurdles in my time as part of a regular warm-up drill. I felt really good in Tuesday’s warm-up, looking forward to what should have been a really special week of winning my 150th Test cap at Lord’s.
Broad was set to be a key man for the remaining days of play but there could be more injuries
The 35-year-old was supposed to grab his 150th Test cap but will now watch from the sofa
I jumped the hurdle double-footed and as I landed on the edge of my right foot, my ankle gave way and I felt the weirdest sensation. Imagine being whipped across the back of your leg as hard as is possible.
I turned to Jimmy Anderson and said: ‘Did you just whip me?’ He told me later that I did so with a face of thunder. With a look that said: ‘I want to kill you.’
But I immediately knew from his expression and response of, ‘I was nowhere near you, mate,’ that something was badly wrong. Moeen Ali said that it looked like I slipped; Sam Curran said he heard a pop.
Unable to put any weight through my foot — I still can’t — as I hobbled off, I realised I had done something pretty significant. It felt like the worst possible cramp.
Jimmy came in immediately after the fielding session, to see how I was, followed by Joe Root, Ollie Robinson and Jonny Bairstow. Ever the optimist, Joe said, ‘You never know, it could’ve just been a bee sting’. What I would have done for it to be just that, although I am not sure I could’ve lived with the embarrassment.
As soon as I left the field on Tuesday, I knew my series against India was over. Even a grade one tear would have sidelined me for 10 days to two weeks and with the matches coming so thick and fast, there would have been no time to get game ready again.
England’s players came to check on their team-mate after suffering the injury in a warm-up
Sadly, I won’t be the last England injury of this series — not with the GPS ‘red zones’ as they are for players right now.
The difficulty with the 2021 schedule being so white-ball dominant is that bowlers have just not built up overs in the bank. Say Saqib Mahmood had been drafted in for this Test.
He hasn’t played a red-ball game for 10 weeks and it’s very difficult to play a four or five-day match without some kind of workload behind you. It’s why bowlers do not come back from injury and play straight away.
At that point, your body is in what we call the red zone. A point at which you are susceptible to breaking down. It needs to be conditioned to bowling a greater volume of overs over time. Unfortunately, the way the fixtures are there is no way of doing that.
Normally going into an August Test series, you would have two or three rounds of Championship matches in July to get ready.
The schedule the England stars are following this summer is taking its toll on their bodies
This summer, as there wasn’t even any second XI Championship cricket in the weeks before this series started, that hasn’t been possible, and so every single one of our bowlers was in that red zone when the first ball was sent down at Trent Bridge.
Sam Curran went from bowling five balls at a time to being asked for 20-25 overs in a day, and it makes life difficult for the likes of Chris Woakes, trying to get back into the team.
I feel for the coaching staff as they are having to balance the fitness of their players around the schedule, which is very tricky. But it is what it is, and we will need to find a way around that because it’s going to be like that for the rest of my career.
There will be a responsibility on players to find unique ways to ready the body for fielding and fast bowling. That might be staying on your feet for seven hours in a row.
Anderson back on track
A calf niggle was one of the reasons Jimmy Anderson started the 2021 season slowly. Then the weather held him back, so he felt a bit low after the New Zealand series. He was just short of a gallop.
But since taking some wickets against Kent at Old Trafford his confidence has come back and he started this series brilliantly.
To be fair, he’s always done well against India because he is an expert in moving the ball laterally and looks in a great rhythm right now.
Jimmy Anderson is back in form and the star will have to keep up this level to keep England in it
For us to keep in this series, Jimmy will have to have stay in this kind of form and lead an inexperienced attack. Whether he will play all five matches, I don’t know but there is a bit of a break after this match for him to rest up.
His relentlessness and desire to keep playing is quite inspiring and highlights how English cricket’s mindset has changed from the era of Freddie Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison.
When I started, you got to 32 and you were done. Now, if you are still performing, why stop?
We must reach deal on Ashes
I believe the ECB will do everything in their power to get the Ashes on this winter, but I think the Australian government hold the key.
While we have to be realistic as players — if there are 40,000 Australians that can’t get back in the country, we can’t expect to avoid quarantine and live completely freely — there has to be a balance struck.
Things need to be in place for England to have the chance to perform at the highest level.
And that means allowances being made for families. If I had kids, I think it would be tough for them to spend 14 days in a hotel room quarantining. Equally, I wouldn’t want to go without seeing them for several months either.
The Ashes is too valuable to Australia as a country, let alone Cricket Australia, for a compromise not to be struck.