England expect Eoin Morgan to be fit for World Cup opener despite breaking left index finger

Nick Hoult
England captain Eoin Morgan walks off after injuring his finger during practice before Saturday's match against Australia - Getty Images Europe

Eoin Morgan will be fit to lead England in their World Cup opening game against South Africa despite suffering a broken left index finger on Friday that rules him out of Saturday’s warm up match with Australia.

Morgan will miss the return of Steve Smith and David Warner on Saturday after an x-ray showed a ‘flake fracture’ sustained while taking slip catches on Friday morning. He will not be risked against Australia on Saturday or Afghanistan on Monday but England expect him to be fit to lead the side in their World Cup opening match against South Africa at the Oval on Thursday. 

"I dislocated it earlier in training," Morgan said of the injury on Friday. "It is a very small fracture, but I’m good to go. I will miss the game tomorrow but as far as the first game of the tournament goes I am fit to go. The digit is the best I could have hoped." 

An injury to their inspirational captain is the last thing England would want going into a World Cup campaign they have planned meticulously for four years, hence the apprehension when Morgan left the field in Southampton to ice his hand. 

They do have batting cover in the squad with James Vince likely to bat three on Saturday and Joe Root dropping down to Morgan’s place at no 4. 

ICC regulations allow an injured player to be replaced in the 15-man squad but he cannot then return when fit so England will only call on back up in the most serious cases.

Root missed training due to personal reasons delaying his arrival from Yorkshire to  Southampton until last night but England feel ready to go having played five one-dayers against Pakistan. 

Liam Dawson will play having been parachuted into the World Cup squad in place of Joe Denly who played two matches against Pakistan. Adil Rashid will not play the warm-up games after having any injection in his shoulder, giving Dawson two matches to become reacquainted with international cricket.

A crowd of 10,000 is expected in Southampton on Saturday and the Oval is a sell out for India’s warm-up game against New Zealand.

England and Australia will use 12 players (though only 11 can bat). England will rest one of their fast bowlers, possibly Mark Wood or Tom Curran, from the 13 players who are fit to play.

Australia have spent the past week in Southampton, attuning to English conditions but are worried about the reception from the crowd.

Brad Haddin, the assistant coach, insisted the team have changed their ways after the sandpaper scandal, and behaviour on the field has become more respectful of opponents. We will wait and see if that is a reality.

England were training at the Ageas Bowl on Friday Credit: Reuters

“You want a contest out there - that doesn’t always have to be verbalised, it’s how you present yourself with your body, the way you create that environment on the field with the presence you set,” he said. “I think all anyone wants out there is fair contest and I think every time Australia play England we all know that we are going to get one hell of a contest. 

“Dave has come back into the team really hungry to perform at this level – he has had a long time out of the game and he has been great since he came back into the group and he just wants to perform. I can try and spin it a different way but they are all just excited about playing a World Cup, excited about playing a warm up game against England and Dave will bring the energy he always does.”

Dawson is a phlegmatic character and appears to have taken in his stride his late World Cup call up. He last played for England in October when he sustained a side strain in the first one-day international of a five-match series against Sri Lanka.

“When you get injured it opens a door for someone to come in and take your place. That happened. Joe (Denly) came in and took my place. It was something I didn’t really worry about. I’m 29 now. I just want to enjoy my cricket now here at Hampshire. If international cricket were to come again it would be brilliant and thankfully it has come again and I’m very excited for it,” he said.