Dominic Cork became the latest England World Cup player to end up on the physiotherapist's table yesterday when he pulled out of England's second warm-up match in Lahore after bowling just 13 deliveries.
The Derbyshire pace bowler is suffering from a damaged tendon in his right knee and joins Robin Smith on the sidelines just five days before the opening group match against New Zealand. The injury marred England's second victory in as many days over the local Lahore side.
Ray Illingworth, the England manager, said: "We will give Dominic three days' rest and we think the knee should settle down during that period." The injury is one that Cork has experienced before. However, if the problem proves more severe this time, he will need a cortisone injection, which would keep him out for up to 10 days.
On the pitch, Jack Russell, with 38, and Neil Fairbrother (25) carried England to a six-wicket victory with 10 balls to spare after yet another collapse had seen their top four batsmen dismissed for 12 runs in the space of five overs. The unbroken fifth-wicket stand added 76 in 23 overs but it was tough going on a slow pitch where spinners ruled.
Lahore struggled in reaching their total of 166 for 9 against the England spinners Richard Illingworth, who took 3 for 24, and Neil Smith, with 2 for 29.
Illingworth said he may play two spinners in Pakistan and this performance showed why he is thinking that way. Darren Gough, in his first full game in Lahore, took one wicket but it was again Craig White who impressed, collecting 2 for 27.
When England batted, Michael Atherton (41) and Alec Stewart (27) put on 79, but both fell to the slow bowlers, who then quickly picked up the wickets of Graeme Hick (8) and Graham Thorpe (4).
Smith's World Cup future is likely to be decided this weekend. The Hampshire batsman pulled a muscle in his groin and has been ruled out of England's first two matches, but he should know by tomorrow night whether he will be retained for the remainder of the tournament.
England's first task is to discover whether substitutes for injured players are to be allowed under the rules of this World Cup. "Anyone not on the list of 18 names we submitted to the organisers last month might not be eligible," Illingworth said. If that is so, England would have to choose from Mark Ramprakash, Mike Watkinson, Dermot Reeve and Angus Fraser.
n World Cup organisers have asked the United Nations to resolve the deadlock created by the refusal of Australia and the West Indies to play in Sri Lanka.
n The West Indies team's flight from Barbados had to turn back because of an engine problem. They made up time by catching Concorde to London to make their connection for Calcutta.