England's back-up seamers will battle to replace Broad

ADELAIDE // England will give their three back-up seam bowlers a chance to press their claims for a Test spot in the tour match in Melbourne following the "devastating" loss of Stuart Broad, the injured paceman, for the rest of The Ashes, Andrew Strauss, the captain, said.

Broad was ruled out with a torn abdominal muscle shortly before England clinched a thumping innings and 71-run victory over Australia in the second Test in Adelaide yesterday to take a 1-0 lead in the five-Test series.

Despite the breakthrough win, the loss of Broad is a blow to England's hopes of winning an Ashes series on Australian soil for the first time in 24 years.

The Nottinghamshire paceman has been used as an aggressive strike bowler by Strauss and he has scored some useful runs from No 8 - as he showed with a century against Pakistan in the summer.

His absence has created a dilemma for the England selectors ahead of the third Test in Perth next week.

"He's distraught and we're distraught that he's going to be leaving us because he's a big part of our team both on and off the field," Strauss told reporters. "He's been one of the mainstays of our bowling attack for quite a while now and he's got all the ingredients to bowl well in Australia. We're devastated for him."

Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad are vying to play at Perth's WACA ground, where fast bowlers traditionally prosper on fast, bouncy tracks.

England play a three-day tour match against state side Victoria at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting Friday.

"The likelihood is all three of them will play in Melbourne and we'll see which one of them is the most potent and the most suited for Perth," Strauss said.

"What happens in Melbourne will have some effect but we've got to think which bowler is likely to take wickets in Perth."

Broad, who played a key role in England winning The Ashes on home soil last year, is to return to England and is expected to be fit in time for the one-day World Cup in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India starting in February, England's medical officer Nick Peirce said in a statement.

Broad said having his tour cut short was "devastating".

"So far the series has been everything I had anticipated and knowing I'll play no further part is quite hard to take," he said.

"Injuries happen and there's nothing I can do about it other than make sure I get stuck into rehabilitation and come back stronger in time for the World Cup next year."

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