Blow for England as injury forces Morgan to miss out on World Cup

ENGLAND’S worst World Cup fears were realised yesterday when their leading one-day batsman and former Irish star Eoin Morgan was ruled out of the tournament with a fractured finger.

Morgan, who progressed from his Irish heroics to his adopted country’s most complete limited-overs player, will watch from home as Ravi Bopara takes his place in the 15-man squad.

Morgan initially sustained the injury in the fourth one-day international in Adelaide but played on before X-rays more than a week later detected the break in the middle finger of his left hand.

Such is Morgan’s importance to England’s one-day strategy, not least in the sub-continent where his array of innovative laps and sweeps are most useful, that consideration was given to carrying him through the group phase in the hope of utilising him in the knockout stages.

The injury is worse than hoped, though, and team director Andy Flower indicated he would not have been fit to play any part.

Speaking on the team’s arrival at Heathrow Airport following an Australia tour that saw them retain the Ashes but surrender the ODI series 6-1, Flower said: “Eoin Morgan won’t be going to the World Cup. His finger needs to be operated on. He’ll be a huge loss to us. He’s been a very influential limited-overs performer for us since he joined the England team.”

Captain Andrew Strauss, who had been hoping to utilise his Middlesex team-mate’s unique talents on the slow, low pitches of India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, was equally disappointed.

He added: “Over the last 12 to 18 months he has been the stand-out performer for us in one-day cricket. We all see the World Cup as the forum to showcase our talents and skills and he is disappointed to be missing out. Unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast; you are going to get injured and his has come at a bad time.

“Thankfully Eoin is a young bloke who has plenty more opportunities, but for the time being we’re going to have to make do without him. That’s something we’re prepared for and something we’re able to do.”

Essex all-rounder Bopara has been summoned back from the West Indies, where he has been on duty with the England Lions, and will now link up with Strauss and company.

He played no part in the unhappy one-day series against Australia but is an experienced performer and, perhaps crucially, knows conditions well as one of the few Englishmen to feature in the Indian Premier League.

Morgan is not the only England player to suffer injury ahead of the World Cup, but the five other players with question marks over their fitness are all nowexpected to make the trip.

Tim Bresnan (calf), Graeme Swann (back), Paul Collingwood (back) and Ajmal Shahzad (hamstring) all had to leave the Australia tour early, while Stuart Broad (stomach) has not played since the second Test of the Ashes.

“We’ve got good news on most of our other players,” confirmed Flower. “The guys that came back early are progressing well.”

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