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Mark Wood ‘confident’ of recovery but scans on ankle still unknown

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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.



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Steyn was not ‘medically ready’ for India tour – van Zyl

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Cricket South Africa have said that Dale Steyn was not “medically ready” to be selected for South Africa’s upcoming tour to India. Steyn announced his retirement from Test cricket last week, turning his focus entirely to limited overs cricket, but was one of the notable absentees when the T20I squad for the trip to India was announced on Tuesday.

Another player missing from the T20 squad was allrounder Chris Morris, whose national contract expired after the World Cup and who did not make himself available for selection for the tour. But it appears that Steyn thought himself available for selection, taking to Twitter to write: “I did … obviously lost my number in the reshuffling of coaching staff.”

Responding to a tweet from journalist Neil Manthorp, who dryly suggested that the selectors might be saving Steyn for “big” games, Steyn responded: “Apologies to Virat and a billion people for thinking they not.”

However, CSA acting Director of Cricket Corrie van Zyl has suggested that Steyn was not yet fit enough to be selected for the tour. “He is not yet medically ready and our information makes that very clear,” van Zyl told Sport24. Steyn aggravated an old injury in his right shoulder while playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore – Kohli’s team – in the IPL in May, and though he was named in South Africa’s squad for the World Cup subsequently, he failed to recover in time and was ultimately ruled out.

Unlike Morris, Steyn is still contracted by CSA, having retained his national contract for the 2019-20 season in limited overs cricket. After the trip to India, South Africa’s next limited overs engagements come at home against England in February 2020, with the limited overs leg of England’s tour including three ODIs and three T20Is.

Steyn is not the only player upon whose fitness CSA are sweating, with Vernon Philander and Theunis de Bruyn – both named in the Test squad – currently recovering from injuries, Philander to his hamstring and de Bruyn his back.

“Both are on track, but they will have to play one match before the tour to prove that they are fully fit,” van Zyl said.





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Recent Match Report – England vs Australia, ICC World Test Championship, 2nd Test

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Jofra Archer will have to wait a day to make his highly anticipated Test debut after heavy rain forced play to be abandoned without a ball being bowled in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.

Archer received his England cap from close friend Chris Jordan during a brief break in the otherwise appalling weather with the toss imminent, only for the covers to come back on and the showers to set in for good.

The umpires made the call to abandon play around 4.20pm local time and the match will officially become a four-day fixture with the toss taking place on Thursday and overs added to the end of each day. The follow-on margin, if required, will be reduced to 150 accordingly.

Archer shared a warm embrace with Sussex team-mate Jordan, also born in Barbados, after the cap presentation on the Lord’s field. Jordan, who played eight Tests for England in 2014 and 2015, has shared in Archer’s rapid rise through international ranks since he became eligible to represent England earlier this year, with the pair playing a T20I together against Pakistan in May, which remains Archer’s only T20I appearance. That was two days after Archer made his international debut in an ODI against Ireland.

With a vastly improved forecast for Thursday, play looks likely with Josh Hazlewood set to line up for Australia at the expense of Mitchell Starc after both were included in a 12-man squad while James Pattinson rests for this Test.

England still have a selection call to make on whether they risk not playing spinner Jack Leach, given the shortened match, and pick Sam Curran instead. Should they opt for Leach, there is a possibility Curran could still play ahead of Joe Denly.



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Recent Match Report – Northamptonshire vs Lancashire, Twenty20 Cup (England), North Group

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Lancashire 160 for 2 (Davies 75*) beat Northamptonshire 157 for 7 by eight wickets

After the rare taste of defeat against Birmingham Bears, normal service resumed as Lancashire Lightning eased home with nine balls to spare on a night on which one sensed they would not have broken into a sweat even had the temperature been 10 degrees warmer.

With Alex Davies dominating with a masterful 75 at the top, finding the boundary 10 times but impressing also with some skilful shot placement backed up with superb running between the wickets, the absence of their leading scorer, Glenn Maxwell, through a minor hamstring injury was barely noticed.

Supported with vigour by Liam Livingstone at the start, with measured calm by Steven Croft through the middle overs and improvisation by Dane Vilas at the end, Davies underlined the depth of resources in the current Lightning squad that sees them with a five-point cushion at the top of the North Group, albeit from a match more than everyone else.

Adam Rossington (40) and Dwaine Pretorius (38) top scored as the Steelbacks posted 157 for 7 but even on a used pitch that gave the slow bowlers something to work with there was a never even a hint of a wobble from their opponents, who surely have one foot in the quarter-finals, not least with Maxwell set to return for Friday’s game against Birmingham.

Northamptonshire are not completely out of the picture, even in eighth place, but they will have to go some to qualify from here.

What had been shaping up as a pretty decent powerplay for the home side stalled rather dramatically after a bemused Richard Levi, aiming to chip into the legside field, was caught at third man off a leading edge in the fourth over. Adam Rossington worked a four off his hips in the same over to take the total to 37 for 1 after four but Richard Gleeson conceded only three in the fifth over and Saqib Mahmood just a single in the sixth, in which the Steelbacks lost another big wicket when Josh Cobb holed out to deep square leg without scoring.

Lancashire, who had won the toss and fancied there would be something in the conditions for their bowlers after a miserably wet day, then took the pace off and put the squeeze on some more before Rossington and Alex Wakely eased the pressure with a boundary each as Northamptonshire reached the halfway stage at 69 for 2.

On a slow pitch against disciplined bowling, the Steelbacks struggled to build any momentum, picking up only a couple of boundaries in the next five overs. A full swing of the bat from Wakely sent the ball over the rope at deep midwicket, but in the same over of an impressive spell of legspin by Livingstone came another setback as Rossington failed to clear the fielder at long-on.

Livingstone cleverly bowled Wakely in his next over to finish with a tidy two for 24 before Rob Keogh and Pretorius gave the innings some belated substance with a flurry of big blows, the latter walloping Matt Parkinson for consecutive legside sixes on his way to 38 off 22 balls before the legspinner thudded the next delivery into his pads.

The two had added 52 in five overs, most of them in a furious assault against Mahmood and Parkinson that accrued 37 in 12 deliveries. But James Faulkner tightened things up again with a superb final over that conceded only four and claimed two more wickets as he finished with 3 for 36.

Needing just under eight an over to overhaul the Steelbacks and claim their sixth win after three no-results in their first 10 matches, Lancashire could not have asked for a more emphatic statement of intent from their openers than Davies provided by smashing the first three balls of Ben Sanderson’s opening over to the rope.

Livingstone took up the gauntlet, needing little time to loosen up as lofted three of his first nine deliveries for six and though he was out looking for a fourth, well caught at deep mid-wicket, Lancashire were ahead of the game at 55 for 1 after the powerplay, even though the Steelbacks dragged the rate back a little in overs five and six.

The torrent of boundaries had dwindled to a trickle as Lightning reach the halfway point at 83 for 1 after some largely tidy work by Graeme White and Keogh but Davies and Croft were content with ones and twos with wickets in hand and the scoring ahead of the required rate.

Davies took advantage of a couple of loose deliveries from White to raise his boundary count to eight as he passed 50 in 38 balls before Faheem Ashraf checked Lancashire’s progress a little by yorking Croft in an excellent over that went for just two singles.

But Davies continued to play splendidly, rarely passing up the opportunity for an easy boundary that came his way all too often and never keen to settle for singles if a two was available as the target came down to 34 off the last five.

By now, the Steelbacks’ heads had dropped as Vilas warmed to the task and chopped Sanderson away twice through the offside before the game ended in a manner that aptly reflected the crumbling nature of the home side’s cricket as Vilas swatted away a Nathan Buck full toss which Wakely’s misfield at deep backward square turned into the winning boundary.



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