England World Cup watch: Jason Roy, Joe Denly suffer back spasms

England

England’s World Cup-bound IPL contingent are due back in the coming days, ahead of ODIs against Ireland and Pakistan, while several other members of the squad have been in Royal London Cup action. A week into the 50-over competition, we take a look at who’s up and who’s down.

Jason Roy
Roy missed Surrey’s opening Championship fixture as he continued his recovery from a hamstring injury sustained with England in the Caribbean. His Royal London Cup started with innings of 19 and 9, and worse seemingly followed at The Oval on Tuesday, when he left the field after fours overs against Essex. Initial reports suggested another hamstring issue but that was later updated to a back spasm – and Roy was fit enough to return at the fall of the seventh Surrey wicket, scoring 19 off 11 balls to finish on 35 not out.

Liam Plunkett
With Jofra Archer set to press his case for promotion to the World Cup squad, Plunkett is currently the bowler under most scrutiny. The 34-year-old switched counties over the winter, but looked rusty when taking 1 for 85 on his Championship debut for Surrey and then received further punishment at the start of the Royal London campaign – recording figures of 7-0-67-0 and 6-0-57-1 in games at Bristol and Hove. However, he did return to wicket-taking form against Essex, with 4 for 50 to go alongside an excellent catch to remove Tom Westley.

Alex Hales
Despite only being contracted for white-ball cricket by Nottinghamshire, Hales was given time off for “personal reasons” and is not expected to feature for them in the Royal London Cup. Hales has recently found himself as the back-up batsman in England’s ODI squad but opened twice in the Caribbean in March, when Roy was sidelined by injury. Since that tour, Hales’ only cricket has been two T20 matches at the PSL, and although his England availability is not said to be in doubt, it is hardly ideal prep for the World Cup.

Chris Woakes
Woakes’ fitness has been closely monitored as England seek to manage his long-term knee injury. He was left out of the squad to face Ireland next week, and the subsequent T20I against Pakistan, in order to keep his workload down – and the same goes for his RLC appearances. He claimed 3 for 47 in Warwickshire’s tie with Yorkshire in their opening game before being rested as part of an agreement with the ECB for Sunday’s trip to Northampton. Got through a full ten overs, though finished wicketless, against Nottinghamshire at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

Mark Wood
Second only to worries about nursing Woakes through the World Cup is the question of whether Wood can stay fit. Having come through three lots of ankle surgery to catch fire again on England’s tour of the Caribbean, where he regularly bowled in excess of 90mph, Wood was due to be available for Durham at the start of the season – specifically, the ECB pinpointed a fixture at Derby in the opening round of the Championship and RLC games on April 17 and 24. The England medical staff are reportedly exercising caution after scans on his ankle, but thus far Wood has yet to feature at all for his county.

Joe Denly
Denly made his IPL debut this year, although it was not the happiest of experiences as he made a golden duck opening the batting for Kolkata Knight Riders. Having otherwise sat on the fringes, and due home by April 26 for an England training camp, Denly tweeted on Saturday that he was heading back early to get ready for the summer’s main event. Denly hasn’t actually played an ODI since 2009, but made the preliminary World Cup squad and appeared in decent touch when making 56 from 69 balls in Kent’s RLC match at Bristol. Of concern, though, was the fact he failed to take to the field during Gloucestershire’s innings with Kent assistant coach Allan Donald confirming: “Joe Denly suffered a back spasm while batting that we need to manage”.

And the good news…
Among those at the IPL, Jonny Bairstow has enjoyed a standout debut campaign, currently the tournament’s second-leading run-scorer after playing his final game, in Chennai, on Tuesday. Having scored just two half-centuries in his previous 18 white-ball innings for England, he looks to have made a timely return to form. There have also been impressive performances in India from Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer, although Ben Stokes has not had quite the same success. On the county scene, Tom Curran has been in good form, while there has been consistent game time for Eoin Morgan, Chris Jordan, David Willey and Adil Rashid. The Test captain, Joe Root, made scores of 73, 130 not out and 94 in two Championship games but has so far sat out the RLC.

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