England star Jos Buttler remains doubtful for West Indies clash
Jonny Bairstow may deputise again if Buttler is not passed fit.
England’s Jos Buttler is “responding well to treatment” on a heavily bruised right hip but remains a doubt for Friday’s World Cup clash with the West Indies.
Star batsman Buttler sustained the injury while batting in Saturday’s victory over Bangladesh, visibly hobbling after launching one of four sixes during a lively cameo of 64.
The wicketkeeper-batsman was in visible discomfort for the remainder of his innings and did not re-emerge after the break.
Jonny Bairstow deputised with the gloves and would happily do so again should Buttler not be passed fit for the fourth group game, while James Vince or Moeen Ali would vie for his place in the XI.
The England and Wales Cricket Board offered a cautiously optimistic update on Buttler’s fitness but fell short of confirming his availability for the game the fourth group game in Southampton.
“Jos sustained heavy bruising on his right hip during the match against Bangladesh in Cardiff. He is responding well to treatment and will be reassessed later this week,” it read.
“We anticipate he will train with the rest of the squad at the Hampshire Bowl on Wednesday ahead of the match against West Indies on Friday.”
England captain Eoin Morgan suggested after the result in Cardiff that there would be no temptation to gamble with Buttler’s fitness.
“We’ll use every day as much as we can to get try to get him back on the park, but if he is a risk going into the next game, it might not be worth it,” he said.
Buttler’s absence would be a major loss to England having hit a rich vein of form, scoring 185 runs in 136 balls in his three World Cup knocks so far including a century against Pakistan.
Vince would be the closest call for a like-for-like replacement given his role as the squad’s spare batsman, but England could also choose to retain their bowling attack en bloc and recall all-rounder Moeen Ali.
Should England ultimately err on the side of caution with Buttler, with a final decision only likely to come once he emerges from a full training session, Moeen and Vince could yet come in together.
The former found himself dropped on a horses-for-courses basis last time out and might simply replace a seamer, with Chris Woakes possibly due a rest.
Adil Rashid was sole spinner against Bangladesh in a rapid attack headlined by Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, who both hit 95mph, and is happy living life in the slow lane.
“It’s the first time in a long time that we have the bowlers who can bowl 90mph-plus and it’s nice knowing that,” he said.
It’s nice to have that pace, knowing we can rough teams up and then for me to come in. Hopefully someone comes after you and the wickets come for me that way. Adil Rashid
“The batsmen think, ‘maybe we’ve got to target the spinner here’ so that can work in my favour. They can come hard at the spinner and as a result you get a wicket some days or you get a five-for.
“It’s nice to have that pace, knowing we can rough teams up and then for me to come in. Hopefully someone comes after you and the wickets come for me that way.”
England will renew their battle with Chris Gayle on Friday, the veteran Jamaican who hit a record 39 sixes against them in their recent one-day series in the Caribbean.
It bears reminding that the tourists still won that series 3-2, and Rashid pointed out that Gayle is not alone among the big-hitters on show.
“Chris Gayle is in his own league, whatever, but it’s good to have Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow at the top of the order,” he said.
“I think they are the best opening partnership in the world. They can score very quickly and we have Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan, too.”