Mark Wood‘s World Cup hopes remain in the balance with three days to go until England’s opening fixture against South Africa at The Oval, despite optimistic signals from within the England camp.
The results of the precautionary scan on Wood’s troublesome left ankle have not yet been revealed, after he opted to leave the field midway through his bowling spell in England’s warm-up fixture against Australia at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday, rather than risk further aggravation.
Although Wood himself is understood to be feeling more confident of a full recovery after 24 hours of rest, privately, England still fear that a joint that has been the source of endless disruption to Wood’s career could have flared up once again at the most inopportune moment imaginable.
Wood has bowled just 13.1 overs in the English season to date, after his return to action for Durham in the Royal London Cup was thwarted by consecutive washed-out matches. However, he bowled with pace and hostility in his solitary ODI against Pakistan earlier this month, regularly touching 90mph en route to figures of 2 for 71.
The entire England World Cup squad gathered in central London this morning to take part in the Ruth Strauss Foundation Westminster Mile, the inaugural charity event in memory of the wife of the former England captain, Andrew Strauss, who died of cancer in December.
The entire group walked the mile, with the exception of Wood, who rested during the event, and Ben Stokes, who chose to jog the mile with his son and wife.
England’s World Cup party was reduced to such bare bones in the midst of their Australia fixture that the fielding coach, Paul Collingwood, who turned 43 today, was pressed into action as a substitute fielder.
However, there should be a fuller complement of players to choose from in Monday’s second warm-up against Afghanistan, which takes place at The Oval.
Adil Rashid, who has been nursing a shoulder injury, was fit to bowl in the nets at The Oval, under the supervision of the bowling coach, Chris Silverwood, and a decision on whether he takes part in the match will be made in the morning.
Joe Root, who missed the Australia game following the death of his grandfather (but took the field as a substitute fielder) is likely to play, alongside Jofra Archer, who also caused England some alarm when he jarred his leg while fielding in the same game.
Liam Dawson, who split the skin on his right ring finger, is likely to be rested while the wound heals fully, while Chris Woakes – who played as a specialist batsman against Australia – is likely to have his first bowl since the Pakistan series.
Meanwhile Eoin Morgan, the captain, is making encouraging progress following the “flake fracture” to his index finger that forced him out of the Australia match. He is expected to be sufficiently fit to take part in the World Cup opener, but may choose to rest against Afghanistan as well.
Live Report – India v New Zealand
Jos Buttler reports for England training after recovering from thigh bruising
Jos Buttler has given England a significant boost by reporting fit for training in Southampton, following a thigh injury sustained during last week’s victory over Bangladesh.
Buttler did not keep wicket in Cardiff on Saturday – Jonny Bairstow took the gloves – after sustained heavy bruising after being hit by a delivery while batting. But he has recovered well and is all but certain to play in Friday’s match against West Indies.
“He’ll be fine,” England coach, Trevor Bayliss, said. “He’ll be back and able to practice fully. It was a bit precautionary the other day. He could have kept. We just weren’t really sure if he would have been able to sprint after a high catch.”
Moeen Ali was absent from Wednesday’s session, however. He was at the bedside of his wife, Firuza, as she gave birth to their second child, a daughter named Haadiya. He is expected to re-join the squad in time for training on Thursday morning, and is likely to return to the team for Friday’s game in place of one of the seamers. Bayliss hinted that the final place in the side would probably be between the new-ball bowler Chris Woakes or middle-overs seamer Liam Plunkett.
“Southampton is somewhere where we have played two spinners in the past,” Bayliss said. “If Moeen does come back in – and we’ll have to have a look at the wicket first – then it is one of the pace bowlers who misses out. It is a difficult decision: you’ve got one guy who bowls up front [Woakes] who can get the ball to move off the seam versus a guy [Plunkett] that is the leading wicket-taker through those middle overs over the last few years. It’s a difficult decision and I can’t tell you right at this moment who would miss out.”
The statistics would suggest Plunkett might have the better chance of retaining his place. He has been England’s most economical bowler in the tournament to date – he is conceding just 4.86 runs per over on average – and has claimed three wickets at an average of 24.33. Woakes has been England’s most expensive bowler – he is conceding 7.71 runs per over – and has claimed three wickets at a cost of 54 apiece. Woakes is the better batsman and fielder, however, and bowls in the first Powerplay, so the comparison is not entirely valid.
A glance at the pitch – which is nowhere near as green as the surface seen in the match against Bangladesh – suggests England will recall Moeen. The playing area in Southampton is also much larger than the one in Cardiff – it is probably the largest among international grounds in England and Wales – so there is less chance of mis-hits carrying over the boundary.
While Bayliss admitted to some concerns over the form of Adil Rashid, who came into the World Cup with a shoulder injury, he also expressed confidence in his anticipated contributions in the remainder of the tournament.
“I think what he needs is more bowling whether that is in the nets or in a match,” Bayliss said. “He did have a niggle in his shoulder, but over this last couple of weeks he hasn’t had anywhere near as much of a problem with it. I don’t think the wickets have necessarily been an advantage to the spinners yet, but the further we go through the competition and maybe get a bit of drier weather and play on used pitches, he may come into his own.”
England’s training session was heavily curtailed by rain on Wednesday afternoon, though West Indies were able to train in the morning. Andre Russell was a noticeable absentee – he missed the match against South Africa due to his chronic knee problem – though the team management remain confident he will be fit for Friday. Evin Lewis, however, was able to return to training after recovering from a hand injury.
Namibia’s Christi Viljoen earns four-match suspension | Cricket
Christi Viljoen, the 31-year old Namibia allrounder, has been handed a four-match suspension for breaching ICC’s Anti-Racism Code during the T20 World Cup Africa Qualifiers in May.
Viljoen’s sledges towards Uganda players on May 21 were deemed “inappropriate”. He accepted the charges against him.
Section 2.1.1 of the code, which he breached, pertains to “engaging in any conduct (whether through the use of language, gestures or otherwise) which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, threaten, disparage or vilify any reasonable person in the position of a player, umpire, match referee or any other person (including a spectator) on the basis of their race, religion, culture, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin”.
As per ICC’s rehabilitation measures for those suspended under this code, Viljoen will have to undergo an education programme to “promote a better understanding and awareness of issues” directly relevant to the offence he has committed.
Viljoen had an impressive tournament performance-wise, picking up nine wickets in three matches, apart from making 33 in a winning cause against Uganda.
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