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England sweat Broad recovery for first Test

Domestic one-day final to act as fitness test for spearhead ahead of South Africa series-opener at Lord's

England are optimistic Stuart Broad will be fit for next month's first Test against South Africa at Lord's despite a recent foot injury, as questions loom over the make-up of their XI.

The experienced pace bowler had scans on a bruised left heel after bowling only one over for Nottinghamshire in Leicestershire's second innings as his side defeated their Midlands rivals in the County Championship this week.

But with scans inconclusive, England hope the old-fashioned approach of a week's rest will help the 30-year-old Broad regain full fitness in time for the first of a four-Test series that starts on July 6.

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He will now miss the four-day Championship match against Kent starting on Monday.

An England spokesman added it was not yet clear if he would be fit to play for Nottinghamshire in their one-day cup final against Surrey at Lord's on July 1, but said he would "hope to be fit" for the first Test at the Home of Cricket. 

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Nottinghamshire coach Peter Moores said: "Stuart has been assessed by the medics over the last 24 hours.

"They have ruled him out of the Kent game for him to keep getting treatment, and then we'll wait to see how he responds to that treatment."

Broad, who no longer plays white-ball cricket for England, had taken 16 wickets at 20.87 in five Championship matches so far this season. He has also taken 10 wickets in as many One-Day Cup games en route to the final.

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If Broad, a mainstay of England's Test attack with 368 wickets in 102 matches, plays in the final without suffering any adverse reaction, he will likely be named in the first Test squad.

That would be a relief to England given the fitness problems affecting several of their other seamers.

James Anderson, Broad's longstanding new-ball partner and England's all-time leading Test wicket-taker, has only recently returned from a groin injury, Chris Woakes is struggling with a side strain and all-rounder Ben Stokes has been hampered by a knee problem.

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Meanwhile, questions remain over who will partner former captain Alastair Cook at the top of the England order after Haseeb Hameed’s poor start to the 2017 season continued on Friday.

After his first-innings duck for the England Lions in an 'unoffical Test' against South Africa A, Hameed made just two the second time around.

The batting prodigy made his Test debut and partnered Cook in India before injury struck him down in the third Test in Mohali. Durham’s Keaton Jennings replaced Hameed for the final two matches and made a century in his first Test innings.

England haven’t played a Test since the India tour but their next assignment is fast approaching and Hameed’s alarming record in first-class cricket this season could see him fail to regain his spot alongside Cook and replaced by in-form Surrey opener Mark Stoneman.

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In six four-day matches for Lancashire this English summer, Hameed has scored just 174 runs at 19.33 with a high score of 47.

In stark contrast, Stoneman has amassed 627 runs at 67.20 from the same number of matches, and his best knock of 197 is more than Hameed’s entire season tally.

Hameed and Stoneman have opened the batting together for the England Lions in Canterbury in what appears to be an effective shoot-out to partner Cook against the Proteas at Lord’s in the first Test.

With Hameed letting his chance go begging, Stoneman followed up his 58 in the first dig with a quick-fire 86 in the second.

Should Stoneman, 29, leapfrog the 20-year-old Hameed, he would be Cook’s 12th opening partner since Andrew Strauss retired in August 2012.

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