England suffered a worrying injury scare to the man who has done so much to turn them from World Cup embarrassments four years ago into firm favourites for this years tournament, when Eoin Morgan fractured a finger during practice.
The England captain winced and was clearly in pain when he was struck on the index finger of his left hand while taking fierce catches propelled by a bowling machine ahead of Saturdays World Cup warm-up at Southampton against old enemy Australia.
Cricket World Cup: Eoin Morgan fractures finger but should be fit for England opener
Morgan immediately left the field and soaked his finger in ice to try to reduce the swelling before he left for what was described as a precautionary x-ray at a local hospital.
Morgan said: The digit is the best I could have hoped. I dropped a catch at training and dislocated it and theres a very small fracture in there. But Im good to go. Im going to miss the warm-up game but regarding the first game of the tournament, I should be fit to go. Its very good news. I was delighted.
England later confirmed Morgan had sustained a small flake fracture in the finger and is out of todays game but they insist he will be fully fit for the showcase opening World Cup match against South Africa at the Oval next Thursday. The injury is stable so does not require a cast and is treated the same way as a sprain.
Jos Buttler will take over the captaincy in Morgans absence while James Vince, brought into the squad for the disgraced Alex Hales, should get the chance to play for England on his home Hampshire ground in their penultimate warm-up before the big day.
England captain Eoin Morgan taken to hospital for scan on his finger
It can only be hoped Englands optimism proves well-founded because the absence of Morgan for any part of the tournament would be a huge setback, as much for his inspirational captaincy as batting that has seen him in sublime form in the cup build-up.
Each team will play each other once in a round-robin format, with the top four progressing to the semi-finals in the first week of July.
England can only replace an injured player from their final 15 for the whole tournament so their squad would be depleted should Morgan take longer to recover from a small section – or flake – of bone being pulled off his finger where ligaments attach to the bone.
Their preparations for a tournament they have invested so much in have been meticulous and they looked ready and raring to go when they outclassed Pakistan 4-0 to stretch their unbeaten run in 50-over cricket to 11 series.
Earlier in the day, Morgan had to undergo a precautionary X-ray to check for damage to his index finger after injuring it during a warm up ahead of the pre-World Cup clash against Australia.
Eoin Morgan injures finger, to miss warm-up
However there have been problems, not least the abrupt sacking of Hales from the squad at the behest of captain Morgan and senior England players when it emerged he had failed a second test for recreational drug use.
There is another injury concern in the form of Adil Rashid, who will miss Saturdays match after having a third cortisone injection already this season in his sore right shoulder but England are again adamant that the problem is simply being managed.
Any absence for their inspirational leader and symbol of all that has become good about Englands white-ball cricket would be the biggest problem of the lot but management were relieved last night that the fracture was not far worse.
Rashids absence against an Australia side who will include Steve Smith and David Warner on their return to international cricket following their bans over sandpaper-gate will open the door for the latest addition to the squad in Liam Dawson.
England captain Eoin Morgan will undergo a precautionary X-ray after injuring his left index finger in training, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.
The Hampshire left-arm spinner replaced Joe Denly in the final squad partly with Rashids problem in mind and he is now likely to find himself bowling against the Aussies rather than in the Royal London Cup final at Lords against Somerset.
ICC World Cup 2019: England captain Eoin Morgan injures finger ahead of World Cup
Ive played a lot of 50-over cricket domestically in the last month so I feel in a good place, said a man who had such a successful Royal London campaign for Hampshire. Hopefully I can continue that form during the World Cup.
Widely regarded as Englands finest limited-overs skipper, the Dubliner is also in a rich vein of form with the bat.
Dawson, who lost his one-day squad place when he was injured during last winters tour of Sri Lanka, admitted he was surprised to earn his late call-up even though national selector Ed Smith had kept in touch with him throughout Englands series against Pakistan.
I didnt know what to think really, he said. I just tried to do my best for Hampshire and thankfully the call came. Im very happy to be part of this squad.
Dawson, who has played three Tests and three one-day internationals, believes he is a better bowler than when coach Trevor Bayliss was impressed by him during practice with the Lions in Dubai three years ago and promoted him into Englands first team picture.
Morgan is not the only injury concern. Adil Rashid also misses Saturdays match with a view to managing his long-standing shoulder problem. He is not thought to be in doubt for the South Africa game, though it does provide a reminder of how many of these players are going to have to be nursed through the tournament. It is hard to imagine Mark Wood or Chris Woakes playing every game, either. Perhaps partly for that reason, England will utilise 12 players on Saturday to ensure the bowlers workload is limited. These warm-up games do not carry List A or ODI status and can involve up to 15 players a side.
The older you are the wiser you get and you understand your game more, said Dawson at his home Ageas Bowl ground. I like to think my white-ball cricket has been pretty strong here at Hampshire over the last few years.
England would have been put in a tricky position had the x-ray showed a full break. While that might have put Morgan out of action for anywhere between three and five weeks, they would have been loath to call a new player into the squad. Under tournament regulations, a replaced player cannot subsequently be recalled and England might well have been prepared to carry Morgan for the first half-dozen or so group games in the hope he could make an impact in the final half of the event. There will be great relief in the camp that they have not been forced into such a dilemma.
Dawson, 29, and Vince would have been with their county at Lords today had Englands management had their way to provide a boost for a showpiece occasion that has been undermined by ECB staging it this early in the season and on the same day England face Australia.
However the ICC blocked the move because they do not allow World Cup players to appear for any other side within a week of the tournament starting.
Wed have loved to have played and been part of the final but its out of our hands, said Dawson. We have to respect the decision the ICC have made and theres a game here for England that were excited about as well.
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“Pakistan and New Zealand are definitely amongst those that could shock over the next few weeks, but its the West Indies this time round who I think could be the the best outside bet.”
Bowling could be an issue but batting can blow teams awayThe statistics show that no team has conceded 300 runs more times than England in the last two years, but they also show that no team has scored 400 runs more times than them, so Im confident Eoin Morgans men will win the World Cup.
This is the best team weve ever had. The bowling admittedly is not as strong as the batting, but that is the best in the world, with four of the most talented individual batsmen out there.
ICC World Cup 2019: Warm-Up Match 3, England vs Australia: Dream11 Fantasy Cricket Tips – Playing XI, Pitch Report & Injury Update
And dont forget weve got one of the best spinners in the world in Adil Rashid while Moeen Ali is a very good cricketer.
“He will not take part in the match, but is expected to make a full recovery and be available for Englands opening ICC Mens Cricket World Cup match against South Africa at The Oval on Thursday, May 30,” a statement from the ECB clarified.
When we come to the big crunch match between England and India later in the tournament, the favourite and second favourites, I think the hosts will have the edge because of last summers series.
Indias bowling is impressive and they have the top wicket taker in the world for the last two years in Kuldeep Yadav (pictured), but in this seasons IPL he took very few wickets in comparison to last year.
Yadavs economy rate was slightly improved which says to me that batsmen are watching him a bit more closely these days. Hes one of those bowlers that when he burst on the scene and batsman werent used to him he was able to befuddle and beguile. But as soon as players and teams take a step back and look at him hes less of a danger.
I certainly dont think Yadav will be as dangerous to people he has played against before. I do think hell take a lot of wickets in the World Cup, especially against the teams that arent used to him, but he had a whole summer in England last year so he wont present any surprises to the home team and the Kuldeep factor is no longer an issue for them.
Theres a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that our old friends Australia might get there. Just like Germany in the Football World Cup, we dont want them to do well but they usually do (last years Football World Cup aside for Germany!).
The Aussies are very very ruthless and they believe that they can win every game. Theyre brilliant cricketers and theyve got that swagger and arrogance about them that makes them very tough opponents. I think Eoin Morgan has beaten that into the England team and I dont think England fear Australia anymore, but I do think a lot of other teams still do which could see them go a long way.
One thing that always comes into play in a World Cup are the outsiders, the maverick teams and the upsets. Pakistan and New Zealand are definitely amongst those that could shock over the next few weeks, but its the West Indies this time round who I think could be the best outside bet.
Theyve got some incredible talent at the moment, including Andre Russell (pictured) who hit nearly 60 sixes in the IPL alone and hes a good bowler as well and could be the difference in many matches.
Coming in to bat in the middle to late order on fairly small English grounds, on slow wickets, makes him a big threat and on the whole Im very wary of the West Indies.
Graeme will feature alongside our very own Ed Hawkins in Betfairs new series “Crick-o-nomics”, the ultimate Play Smart guide to the Cricket World Cup and beyond. In each episode, the pair will combine to give fans expert opinion which combines Eds data science and Swannys experience of playing International cricket on the world stage. Keep an eye on Betfairs social channels for all the latest from Crick-on-nomics.
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