Katherine Brunt, the veteran England bowler, limped off without completing her first over in England’s final warm-up match, against India, ahead of the ICC Women’s World T20 2018.
Brunt, 33, had come into the tournament with a back injury and was not realistically expected to start the tournament for England.
Mark Robinson, the England coach, had stressed upon England’s arrival in the Caribbean that her inclusion in the squad wasn’t an indication that she was fully fit. “It’s great news that Katherine is out here and I’m so happy for her but there’s a long way to go and we don’t want her to feel any additional pressure,” he had told the England and Wales Cricket Board website.
Veteran bowler @KBrunt26 is a big injury worry for England ahead of #WT20 after pulling up injured after bowling just five balls in their warm-up match against India.— ICC World Twenty20 (@WorldT20) November 7, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/woFchhIzpD pic.twitter.com/II0cvwv4MM
She had been included “with the hope that she can continue that progress and grow in the tournament should we progress”, he had said. “Either way, it’s huge for us to have her with us because she’s so experienced and such a big part of the group.”
The warm-up game at Guyana National Stadium on Wednesday, 7 November, was supposed to help assess her comeback. However, it was limited to just five balls. The bowler fell to her haunches in disappointment, and limped off the field to be treated by the support staff.
"It didn’t look great at that point, did it," agreed Robinson after the match, which England lost by 11 runs. "She hasn’t been able to take any part in the competition so far. She’s been practising, and today was a game to get her up and running. She’s on a reduced run-up.
"She bats in the top five and she’s one of your five bowlers. We haven’t got a like for like replacement."
"I think it was a bit of a shock in there as well, from her point of view. She’s an emotional girl anyway. She put a lot into trying to get out today and she played, and suddenly she feels like she’s going into spasm. And you’ve got New Zealand watching, you’ve got the press with the cameramen, everything going on, a lot of emotion."
The ECB said Brunt would be assessed on Thursday, on the team’s arrival in St Lucia, where they will play their Group A games. “Katherine had an injury coming into the tournament. We’ve been attempting to manage her return to action. She left the field today because she was experiencing back pain. She will be re-assessed in the morning upon arriving in St Lucia,” a statement said.
Robinson, though, added that should the need arise to replace her, it won't be easy for the team, given the all-round role she plays. With Sarah Taylor, their regular wicket-keeper batter, also sitting out this tournament, the coach pointed out that without Brunt, they would be without two of their top five first-choice players.
India sealed victory in their final #WT20 warm-up by 11 runs, @ImHarmanpreet's 62* leading her side to 144/6 before Poonam Yadav's 3/20 helped restrict England to 133/8.#ENGvIND scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/CqVRyAaQoE pic.twitter.com/TU2WMvA91B— ICC World Twenty20 (@WorldT20) November 7, 2018
"You can’t replace Katherine because she bats and bowls," he said. "She bats in the top five and she’s one of your five bowlers. We haven’t got a like-for-like replacement.
"We haven’t got a genuine all-rounder who can do that role so we’re going to have to pick either a bowler or we have to pick a batter. So we’re going to have to go in with four bowlers ... or we go five specialist bowlers and we play six batsmen. That’s your dilemma.
"But we knew that before we came out. We planned that she might not make it, but we had to give her every chance."