SOUTHAMPTON (Agencies): England have suffered a major scare ahead of the World Cup after Eoin Morgan, their captain, sustained a finger injury during the team’s practice in Southampton.
The tournament hosts face a nervous wait on the results of an x-ray Morgan underwent on Friday after he took a blow on his left index finger while practising slip catching from a bowling machine at the Ageas Bowl.
England have described the scan as “precautionary” and are privately confident that Morgan has not sustained serious injury. The fact he was not immediately rushed to hospital and was seen in the team canteen looking upbeat suggests there is no major issue. However, nothing will be known for certain until England get the results of the x-ray back from medics.
Even in a best-case scenario, it seems unlikely Morgan would be risked in Saturday’s World Cup warm-up match against Australia in Southampton.. If that was the case he would, presumably, be fit for England’s opening match of the tournament against South Africa at The Oval next Thursday. The worry is, though, that a fracture – which would take around four weeks to heal – would probably rule the 32-year-old out of the entire group stage of the World Cup.
Whether or not that would see England replace Morgan in the squad remains to be seen. With Alex Hales ‘deselected’ until further notice following his second failed test for recreational drug use, Joe Denly, dropped from the provisional World Cup party earlier this week, and Nottinghamshire’s Ben Duckett are the only viable candidates.
Yet nobody would be able to replace Morgan’s influence on the field or in the dressing-room given he has been the driving force behind the team’s transformation from World Cup also-rans four years ago to No 1 in the world and favourites for this year’s tournament. In Morgan’s absence, Jos Buttler, England’s vice-captain across all formats, would lead the team.
Meanwhile, England have confirmed Adil Rashid will miss Saturday’s match against Australia to rest the right shoulder injury that flared up during the recent one-day series against Pakistan. It gives the left-arm spinner Liam Dawson, a surprise call-up for the World Cup , the chance to play for England for the first time since the tour of Sri Lanka last October.
The match against Australia will not have ODI status, meaning England will field a 12-man team. Joe Root will be part of it despite missing training on Friday to return home, with the Test captain scheduled to rejoin his teammates in Southampton on Friday evening.