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Mark Wood says Eoin Morgan’s trust is key as Alex Hales waits on recall news

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Mark Wood has said that England’s players will take their lead from white-ball captain Eoin Morgan and the team’s management regarding a possible international recall for Alex Hales.

Hales has not played for England since March 2019, and was deselected on the eve of last year’s World Cup after it emerged he had failed a second recreational drugs test, but his hopes of a recall had been boosted in the past few weeks, after Morgan suggested the “door was still open” for him and Chris Woakes said that he believed that “people deserve a second chance”.

England are expected to name an enlarged training group of up to 45 players on Friday, with Hales among a number of players facing a nervous wait to find out if he has been included. Morgan confirmed on Wednesday that he had spoken to Hales during lockdown, but poured cold water on the likelihood of an imminent return, reiterating that the batsman had shown “complete disregard” for the team’s values.

ALSO READ: Morgan quashes Hales’ recall hopes

Speaking to Sky Sports, Wood said that it would be “very hard” for players to support a return for Hales if Morgan and the squad’s management did not, and questioned whether it would be fair for the batsman to force another player out of the squad.

Asked if he would be happy to see Hales return, Wood said: “Yes and no, I guess – it’s a difficult one. If that trust isn’t there with the captain and the management, then I think it’s very hard for the rest of the players to jump on board with that.

“I think once they’re comfortable with it and the trust is back… I think the players might be open to him coming back into the environment. I’m sure he would be treated exactly the same [as everyone else].

“The only thing I think is difficult is that if a player has come in and earned their spot and done really well, do you just leave them out for Alex to come back in? Do they deserve their chance more than him? I don’t know: that’s one for the top brass to talk about. But I think he would be welcomed back if that trust was built back up from the people above.”

The ECB have stressed that the group of players named tomorrow will be a training party rather than an official squad, but it expected that around 12 batsmen – including wicketkeepers – will be added to the 18 bowlers who have already return to individual training, with the expectation that they will be able to begin training at some point next week.

Around 15 further players will be named with a focus on white-ball cricket, who are expected to begin training in mid-June to build up slowly ahead of the three-match ODI series against Ireland, for which a late July start date has been pencilled in.

ALSO READ: Ireland ‘itching’ to play England ODIs despite risks – Stirling

The red-ball bowling group, including Wood, returned to training last week on a strict individual basis, with their immediate focus on getting fit ahead of the proposed Test series against West Indies. The first Test is due to be start on July 8, with Cricket West Indies expected to give the series the green light at Thursday’s board meeting.

Morgan hinted on Wednesday that the white-ball training group could include some relatively new faces, as England look to give players opportunities. That may mean chances in the Ireland series for younger players like Tom Banton, Phil Salt and Pat Brown, while Sam Billings, Liam Plunkett and David Willey will discover if they have been handed recalls. Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence and Keaton Jennings are among the players on the fringes of the Test squad who will hope to be included.

“We’ve openly said even before the outbreak of the pandemic that we would use ODIs primarily to try and grow our squad of 15 players,” Morgan said. “I think when it comes closer to the T20 games that are scheduled at the moment in September [against Australia], we will try and get as many players as we can close to our strongest team, provided the [T20] World Cup is still in the same place.

“If it’s not, I think we could still look to expand on that squad of players. I think we can grow the white-ball squad and the Test side can still perform.”

Wood added that he would prefer to focus on Tests rather than limited-overs cricket this summer, saying he “would love to keep my spot” after a man-of-the-match performance in England’s most recent outing in South Africa. He also suggested Jamie Porter and Brydon Carse as possible inclusions in Friday’s long-list, describing the latter – his Durham team-mate – as “someone that can bowl good licks”.



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Shannon Gabriel added to West Indies squad for England Tests

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West Indies have officially added fast bowler Shannon Gabriel to their squad for the Test series against England. Gabriel had been part of the reserve personnel on tour but has proved his fitness and comes into the 15 vying for contention at the Ageas Bowl next week.

Gabriel underwent ankle surgery last year and has not played a first-class game since September, but he claimed figures of 8 for 122 across West Indies’ two warm-up games in Manchester.

“I am delighted that we are able to add Shannon to the Test squad,” CWI lead selector Roger Harper said. “He has shown that he is fit and ready, he will add experience, firepower and potency to the bowling unit.”

The addition of Gabriel to the full squad means West Indies will be able to call upon the same attack that helped them to a 2-1 series win over England in the Caribbean last year – although there have been concerns over the fitness of captain Jason Holder, who has been suffering from an ankle niggle and only bowled five overs so far on tour.



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Sam Curran self-isolating after ‘sickness and diarrhoea’

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Sam Curran is self-isolating in his room at the Ageas Bowl after feeling sick on Wednesday night.

Curran made an unbeaten 15 on the first evening of England’s intra-squad warm-up match, but took no part in the game after suffering from “sickness and diarrhoea overnight”, according to an ECB statement.

The statement added that Curran was feeling better on Thursday afternoon, but confirmed that he would play no further part in the ongoing warm-up match. He has been monitored by the team doctor throughout, and was tested for Covid-19 earlier today.

The news will come as a concern for England so close to the first Test. While there is no suggestion, at this stage, that Curran has come into contact with the virus, it will undoubtedly be a source of frustration that he has been unable to bowl in this warm-up match after going so long without competitive cricket. Indeed, it is now difficult to see how will play next week, not least with so many other seamers in contention.

Amar Virdi, the offspinner, was a late addition to Team Buttler in Curran’s place, having initially missed out on the squad, coming on to bowl shortly before the close on the second day.

The ECB are expected to issue a formal update on Olly Stone‘s availability tomorrow. Stone has played no part in the warm-up match due to a niggle in his left hamstring.



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England to wear Black Lives Matter logo on shirts for West Indies Tests

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England have announced that their shirts for the upcoming three-Test series against West Indies will feature the Black Lives Matter logo. The move mirrors that already taken by West Indies in asking to use the design by Alisha Hosannah, partner of Premier League footballer Troy Deeney.

The decision was taken by the ECB, fully supported by the England players led by Joe Root, the Test captain, and Ben Stokes, who will stand in for him during the first Test at the Ageas Bowl, starting July 8.

“It is important to show solidarity to the black community and to raise much needed awareness around the topics of equality and justice,” said Root. “The England players and management are unified in this approach and will use the platform of international cricket to fully support the objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists.

“The majority of us do not understand what individuals from BAME background have to go through when people make judgments because of the colour of their skin. As a group, we are learning about this and educating ourselves.

“There has to be equal opportunity and equal rights for all. We hope by making this stance we can play our part in standing shoulder-to-shoulder as a team and we hope that by continuing to raise awareness we can move towards a society in which the colour of your skin and your background has no bearing on your opportunities.

“It is very simple, we believe there is no room for racism or any form of discrimination, anywhere.”

Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, added: “The England and Wales Cricket Board fully support the message that Black Lives Matter, It has become a message of solidarity and a drive for progress and societal change. There can be no place for racism in society or our sport, and we must do more to tackle it.

ALSO READ: West Indies to wear Black Lives Matter logo during Tests

“Our support of that message is not an endorsement, tacit or otherwise, of any political organisation, nor the backing of any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity. We are aware of certain aspects of the movement that promote their own political views, and their actions are not supported in any way by the ECB and our players.

“This moment is about unity. We are proud that our players will stand alongside those from the West Indies and wear a logo that embodies that philosophy. It is fitting that they do so in solidarity with athletes from the football world who wore it first. Our thanks go to Troy Deeney and his partner Alisha Hosannah, creator of the logo, who generously agreed to share it with us.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that cricket is truly a game for everyone. We will shortly set out further steps that build on the work we have already done to make cricket more inclusive and diverse in order to address some of the barriers which still exist for some communities.”

Deeney added: “Alisha and I are immensely proud to be asked and take part in a monumental moment in world sport, this amazing decision by the England and West Indies cricket teams to show their support for Black Lives Matter.

“When I got the call, I didn’t hesitate to respond, because I know as sportspersons in the spotlight, how important our efforts are to bring about change and the role we play in moving towards change in our society. Watching cricket with my grandad shaped my childhood, so it’s great to be able to help England and West Indies Cricket to show their support in such a meaningful way.”



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