Stuart Broad knows he may have to bowl with pain in his left heel for the rest of his career unless medics can identify an effective treatment for his rare injury.
Even as Broad prepared to lead his country in today’s Twenty20 at Eden Park, the first international fixture of their New Zealand tour, England’s medics scoured the world to uncover a cure for the lacerated fat-pad at the bottom of his foot.
They have so far drawn a blank and Broad must therefore get through with the help only of a specially-fitted left boot to minimise the wear and tear on the tissue already weakened. He appears resigned to managing the condition which first surfaced in India three months ago and cut short his involvement in the Test tour there before ruling him out of two Twenty20s and a one-day international series.
At 26, that could mean another decade of discomfort for a cricketer who has already had to sit out some of England’s recent high-profile engagements because of other injuries, but has often proved a match-winner when at his best.
Broad edged closer to that during England’s warm-up campaign here, taking three wickets in both matches against a New Zealand XI in Whangarei – including a hat-trick in the victory with which they began their trip.
He is thankful to begin his return in cricket’s shortest format, which requires him to bowl only four overs a match, before three ODIs and three Tests to follow over the next seven weeks.
He appears determined to retain a healthy perspective, even though there is no medium-term prospect of much respite.
“It’s not a major problem. I don’t get too down about it,” he added. “They’re speaking to specialists all over the world trying to find what they can do.”