England’s coach, Trevor Bayliss, has praised the resolve shown by Craig Overton after he played through the pain of a broken rib during the third Test at the WACA, but admits that England will have to wait and see how he responds to treatment before deciding whether he can be involved in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne.
Overton sustained the injury after being struck a painful blow by Pat Cummins during the closing stages of England’s defeat in the second Test at Adelaide. However, it wasn’t until he dived for a caught-and-bowled chance in Australia’s only innings at Perth that he aggravated the problem.
After undergoing treatment, Overton opted to return to the field but bowled just one more over as Australia amassed a total of 662 for 9 declared. He had been the pick of England’s seamers in the early stages, claiming both of Australia’s openers, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, in his first four overs.
“He’s in a little bit of discomfort at the moment, but all credit to him for going out there with a cracked rib,” Bayliss told BT Sport. “He hasn’t complained at all during this match, he was fine early until he dived for a ball and felt it again, but look, we’ll have to wait and see how he pulls up. I’m sure he’ll be wanting to play, like I said he wasn’t complaining about it, he just wanted to get out there.”
Overton is not, however, the only concern that England have as they face up to the first of two dead-rubber Tests at Melbourne next week. In terms of statistics, Stuart Broad endured the worst Test of his 112-Test career – he returned figures of 0 for 142 in 35 overs – having undergone a scan and had fluid drained from his left knee in between Tests.
“He hasn’t mentioned anything either,” said Bayliss. “Broady is a quality pace bowler and has been for a number of years. He didn’t take any wickets in this game but I’m sure it’s not the first time and I’m sure he’s got that experience to be able to bounce back.”
England have a few days of downtime before resuming training at the MCG on December 23, which should be enough time for Broad to undergo further treatment and confirm his fitness. Nevertheless, his lack of impact – he currently has five wickets in the series at 61.80 – is as much of a concern for England as Alastair Cook’s lack of form at the top of the order. Cook currently has a highest score of 37 in six innings, and both men are starting to face questions about how much more they have to give to their Test careers.
“I think they both agree they are a little bit closer to the end than the start,” said Bayliss. “That just happens with experience, the older you get. But there’s no reason why they can’t continue to be a part of this England team into the future.”