Mark Wood‘s World Cup hopes remain in the balance with three days to go until England’s opening fixture against South Africa at The Oval, despite optimistic signals from within the England camp.
The results of the precautionary scan on Wood’s troublesome left ankle have not yet been revealed, after he opted to leave the field midway through his bowling spell in England’s warm-up fixture against Australia at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday, rather than risk further aggravation.
Although Wood himself is understood to be feeling more confident of a full recovery after 24 hours of rest, privately, England still fear that a joint that has been the source of endless disruption to Wood’s career could have flared up once again at the most inopportune moment imaginable.
Wood has bowled just 13.1 overs in the English season to date, after his return to action for Durham in the Royal London Cup was thwarted by consecutive washed-out matches. However, he bowled with pace and hostility in his solitary ODI against Pakistan earlier this month, regularly touching 90mph en route to figures of 2 for 71.
The entire England World Cup squad gathered in central London this morning to take part in the Ruth Strauss Foundation Westminster Mile, the inaugural charity event in memory of the wife of the former England captain, Andrew Strauss, who died of cancer in December.
The entire group walked the mile, with the exception of Wood, who rested during the event, and Ben Stokes, who chose to jog the mile with his son and wife.
England’s World Cup party was reduced to such bare bones in the midst of their Australia fixture that the fielding coach, Paul Collingwood, who turned 43 today, was pressed into action as a substitute fielder.
However, there should be a fuller complement of players to choose from in Monday’s second warm-up against Afghanistan, which takes place at The Oval.
Adil Rashid, who has been nursing a shoulder injury, was fit to bowl in the nets at The Oval, under the supervision of the bowling coach, Chris Silverwood, and a decision on whether he takes part in the match will be made in the morning.
Joe Root, who missed the Australia game following the death of his grandfather (but took the field as a substitute fielder) is likely to play, alongside Jofra Archer, who also caused England some alarm when he jarred his leg while fielding in the same game.
Liam Dawson, who split the skin on his right ring finger, is likely to be rested while the wound heals fully, while Chris Woakes – who played as a specialist batsman against Australia – is likely to have his first bowl since the Pakistan series.
Meanwhile Eoin Morgan, the captain, is making encouraging progress following the “flake fracture” to his index finger that forced him out of the Australia match. He is expected to be sufficiently fit to take part in the World Cup opener, but may choose to rest against Afghanistan as well.