Cork injury a worry as Atherton prepares to get back into contention

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The Independent Online
Mike Atherton and the England squad put their backs into a two- and-a-half- hour training session yesterday at the Gujarat Stadium in Ahmedabad, scene of their disappointing 11-run defeat by New Zealand in the opening match of the World Cup.

The team's depression would not have been lifted by the sight of Dominic Cork again aggravating his knee injury. The Derbyshire pace bowler has been told to rest as much as possible between matches.

There is no doubt that Cork is a vital member of the side, arguably only second in importance to Graeme Hick, another current casualty. Hick should recover quickly from a "tight" hamstring, but Cork's fitness will be a worry throughout the competition. "Ideally, he needs a good rest," said the team doctor Philip Bell.

A near-deserted stadium yesterday morning offered Atherton's men an opportunity for quiet reflection, as well as practice, following their error-ridden performance against the Kiwis. But it was not intended as a punishment session.

"We always intended to train today," said the team manager, Ray Illingworth. "I don't expect the defeat to affect the way we play in our next match against United Arab Emirates. If anything, it should help to concentrate the mind."

By the time of Sunday's match in Peshawar, England could find themselvesbehind UAE in Group B as their match against South Africa in Rawalpindi was rained off yesterday and, if the weather interferes again today, they will pick up one point for a no-result.

Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Allsport