England’s World Cup hopes may have sustained a serious blow after injury scares to both of their fastest bowlers.
Mark Wood and Jofra Archer, the two men in the England squad who can regularly surpass 90 mph with the ball, were obliged to leave the pitch within minutes of one another in the opening hour of the warm-up match against Australia in Southampton.
First Wood, after one ball of his fourth over, stopped halfway through his run-up and left the pitch having indicated that he may have an issue. Just two balls later Archer, a surprising choice as substitute fielder for Wood, slid as he attempted to stop a ball on the midwicket boundary and appeared to sustain an injury. He left the pitch moments later, but returned to the field after treatment half an hour later.
An ECB statement confirmed that Wood had experienced some “left foot discomfort”, a concern given his lengthy history of ankle problems. “He will continue to spend some time with the medical team before a decision is made on whether he will return to the match.”
Archer, meanwhile, is understood to be carrying a minor niggle in his leg that contributed to his limited involvement in the ODI series.
It meant that Paul Collingwood, one of England’s assistant coaches, was briefly forced into service as a substitute fielder. Collingwood turns 43 tomorrow, and retired as a player at the end of the 2018 season. Joe Root, who was due to miss the game following the death of his grandfather on Thursday, was also pressed into service as a substitute fielder.
England are also without the injured pair of Eoin Morgan, who sustained a fractured finger in training on Friday, and Adil Rashid, who has a long-standing shoulder injury. They also confirmed that Chris Woakes, who is expected to open the bowling in the World Cup, was playing in this match as a specialist batsman and would not bowl as they seek to manage his even more long-standing knee problems.
According to the ICC’s playing conditions for the World Cup, substitute fielders are not permitted from outside the 15-man playing squad, although those rules do not apply to the warm-up games.