England hopeful Mark Wood will win World Cup fitness race

England are cautiously optimistic paceman Mark Wood will recover from a foot injury to take part in the World Cup. Picture: Mark Kerton/PA Wire
England are cautiously optimistic paceman Mark Wood will recover from a foot injury to take part in the World Cup. Picture: Mark Kerton/PA Wire
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England are hopeful of good news on Mark Wood’s fitness as they prepare for one final World Cup warm-up match that looks like more of a headache than a help.

Wood pulled up with pain in his left foot during Saturday’s defeat by Australia, withdrawing from the match and heading to hospital for scans.

Given the paceman’s longstanding injury problems, mostly attributed to his left ankle, alarm bells were immediately raised, but it is understood Wood’s condition felt much improved yesterday and there was cautious optimism in the England camp that specialists would clear him to proceed to the tournament.

In light of the incident, and with several other players nursing ailments or discomforts of varying degrees, England would probably rather be regrouping ahead of Thursday’s curtain-raiser against South Africa than facing Afghanistan at The Oval today.

Wood has no chance of playing, captain Eoin Morgan looks highly unlikely to do so as he nurses a minor fracture in his left index finger and Adil Rashid is back bowling in practice but may not be risked.

Liam Dawson is another who might sit out after suffering a gash in his right ring finger while fielding against Australia, and there is always a careful eye on Chris Woakes’ workload given his chronic knee condition.

Jonny Bairstow is one of those who can count on being involved but admitted the squad is ready for the real thing now.

Speaking at the Ruth Strauss Foundation Family Mile in Westminster, which the England squad took part in to honour the late wife of Andrew Strauss, Bairstow said: “We are ready to go. We want the World Cup to start as soon as possible. The guys are ready.

“[Warm-ups] are just part and parcel of the tournament, that is the scheduling. Hopefully we can just get through without any more injuries. You have just got to get as much out of it as you can.”

Jos Buttler, set to deputise for Morgan as captain once again, shared similar sentiments.

“Everyone is champing at the bit to get started. We were probably ready for the tournament to start yesterday.”

The 12-run loss to Australia ended an unbeaten start to the summer for the England side, taking in a one-day international against Ireland and six games versus Pakistan.

The fact that the match did not carry competitive status means it does not go on the official win-loss record and Bairstow was happy to downplay its significance.

“It felt like a friendly,” he said. “The intensity was there but naturally there was a slight drop. We had people missing, they had people missing, you can’t look at it as a defeat with 12 playing and 11 batting.”

Bairstow may need another dose of painkillers to get through another 100 overs – he took some on Saturday for “GBS: general boy soreness” – but for now those with nothing more worrying than bumps and bruises are thinking of Wood.

“We haven’t heard anything yet but I spoke to him. We’ll wait and see what the scans say,” he added.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s World Cup warm-up match against the West Indies in 
Bristol yesterday was abandoned due to rain.

Hashim Amla (51 not out) and fellow opener Quinton De Kock (31 not out) had taken South Africa’s score to 95 without loss when the game was called off in the 13th over.

South Africa meet England at The Oval in Thursday’s opening World Cup match, while the West Indies start their tournament against Pakistan at Trent Bridge on Friday.

Pakistan’s warm-up match against Bangladesh in Cardiff was called off without a ball being bowled due to heavy rain.

Bangladesh’s first World Cup match is on 2 June when they take on South Africa at The Oval.