Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Injury-hit England fighting to turn corner



Injury-hit England fighting to turn corner

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
England’s captain Joe Root misses the ball on Day 5 of the fourth Ashes cricket Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Sunday. AFP

Injury-hit England fighting to turn corner

A patched-UP England head to an Ashes finale against Australia under lights in Hobart on Friday buoyed by a fighting draw in Sydney, but consumed by injury worries and selection dilemmas.

The tourists finally stopped the rot on a gruelling tour last week with their nail-biting last-wicket hold-out at the Sydney Cricket Ground to prevent a 5-0 whitewash.

But it came at a price with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler sent home with a fractured finger and experienced pair Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes racing the clock to be fit.

England captain Joe Root said not losing was “hugely important” and he hoped it had turned the tide after three heavy and humiliating defeats in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

“It would have been very easy for us to roll over and feel sorry for ourselves,” he said, after breaking Alastair Cook’s record for most matches in charge when he captained England for the 60th time in Sydney.

“But it was up to the guys to put some pride back into the badge and show how much they care about playing for England.”

However, it can’t disguise their still appalling record in Australia with 12 defeats in 14 Tests, with England reduced to celebrating a draw.

Former skipper Michael Atherton said in a column for The Times this week that avoiding a whitewash was “a small mercy”.

“Sober assessment of the fourth Test would stress that Australia declared in both innings and that there were two sessions lost to rain,” he added.

“England were second best by a yawning distance.”

Hobart’s Bellerive Oval will play host to its first Ashes Test after winning the race to replace Perth, which was axed last month over Western Australia state’s tough Covid quarantine rules.

And it will be day-night pink-ball affair, the second of the series after Adelaide, where Australia crushed England by 275 runs.

Rollercoaster

At least the visitors can draw inspiration from a better batting performance in Sydney with Bairstow making England’s first century of the series, while Stokes hit a fifty in each innings and opener Zak Crawley scored 77.

But fellow opener Haseeb Hameed once more failed, with Rory Burns a potential replacement.

With Buttler out, Bairstow could take the gloves, but he is battling a right thumb injury.

As a precaution, England have called up Sam Billings, who has been playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.

With flights deemed too risky given Australia’s rising Covid situation, he had to drive 12 hours from the Gold Coast to Sydney to join the squad and undergo coronavirus testing before flying to Hobart.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster,” he said. We will have to wait and see if that Test cap does come.”

He is no guarantee to make a Test debut with Ollie Pope adequately filling in when Buttler was hurt.

All-rounder Stokes is also a doubt with a left side-strain. Dan Lawrence is his potential replacement.

Australia have their own problems with Melbourne hero Scott Boland needing painkillers to get through the final two days of the fourth Test with a rib injury.

With Josh Hazlewood again ruled out and Jhye Richardson also under an injury cloud, Michael Neser could play.

Selector Tony Dodemaide also admitted there were discussions on whether to risk pace spearhead Mitchell Starc for a fifth straight Test.

“It’s certainly a conversation that we will need to have to see how he pulls up,” he said.

Another key question for Australia is what to do with veteran left-hander Usman Khawaja, who was called up when Travis Head got Covid and smacked a century in each innings in Sydney.

With Head set to return as number five, Marcus Harris could be the fall guy, with Khawaja promoted to open with David Warner.

Australian captain Pat Cummins suggested there was no way Khawaja could be dropped.

“If someone hits a twin hundred it’s pretty hard to go past them for the week after, I think,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa