England captain Eoin Morgan suffers small fracture to his left index finger and will miss World Cup warm-up clash with Australia in Southampton
- England captain Eoin Morgan has suffered a small fracture to his left index finger
- The one-day skipper suffered the injury during a fielding drill on Friday morning
- It comes less than a week before England begin their World Cup campaign
- The tournament’s hosts are set to play Australia in a warm-up match on Saturday
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 year’s 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 Saturday’s World Cup warm-up at Southampton against old enemy Australia.
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.
England captain Eoin Morgan has suffered a small fracture to his left index finger in training
England later confirmed Morgan had sustained a ‘small flake’ fracture in the finger and is out of today’s 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 Morgan’s 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.
It can only be hoped England’s 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.
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.
Morgan took a blow during catching drills in training at the Ageas Bowl on Friday morning
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.
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 Saturday’s 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 England’s white-ball cricket would be the biggest problem of the lot but management were relieved last night that the fracture was not far worse.
Rashid’s 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.
The Hampshire left-arm spinner replaced Joe Denly in the final squad partly with Rashid’s problem in mind and he is now likely to find himself bowling against the Aussies rather than in the Royal London Cup final at Lord’s against Somerset.
Morgan pictured in training on Friday morning just before he suffered the finger injury
‘I’ve 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.’
Dawson, who lost his one-day squad place when he was injured during last winter’s 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 England’s series against Pakistan.
‘I didn’t know what to think really,’ he said. ‘I just tried to do my best for Hampshire and thankfully the call came. I’m 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 England’s first team picture.
‘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.’
Dawson, 29, and Vince would have been with their county at Lord’s today had England’s 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.
‘We’d have loved to have played and been part of the final but it’s out of our hands,’ said Dawson. ‘We have to respect the decision the ICC have made and there’s a game here for England that we’re excited about as well.’