Cork loses battle of injured knee

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Cricket

Dominic Cork will miss England's World Cup quarter-final against Sri Lanka in Faisalabad today because of his long-standing knee injury.

Cork's absence was confirmed yesterday when he took no part in a practice session. But England's best bowler over the last nine months could still have a part to play in this World Cup provided the team triumph without him.

"It's realistic to think I could be available for Wednesday's semi-final in Calcutta," the Derbyshire all-rounder said. "My knee is improving all the time but it's not yet at the stage where I can put much pressure on it.

"There was no point in practising and possibly aggravating the problem or saying I was fit enough to play in the quarter-final and then breaking down."

Cork's long-term fitness is a major concern for England. Match-winning bowlers are thin on the ground and their brightest talent has shown worrying signs of stress and strain.

Two years ago he needed an operation on his left knee. Now the right has been causing problems, on and off, for several weeks. "I don't think this one will need surgery," Cork said. "I'm hoping a few weeks rest between the end of the World Cup and the start of next season will do the trick."

Brian Lara apologised yesterday for a racist remark that he said had been taken out of context. Lara was quoted by an Indian magazine as telling the Kenyan players after their shock victory over West Indies in Pune last week that the defeat was not as bad as losing to a white team like South Africa.

The Delhi weekly, Outlook, claimed Lara said: "It wasn't that bad losing to you guys. You are black. Know what I mean.

"Now, a team like South Africa is a different matter altogether. You know, this white thing comes into the picture. We can't stand losing to them."

But Lara said his quotes had been taken out of context, saying his words had been "put in different language".

"I said that the defeat by Kenya was not as humiliating as when we lost to South Africa at the [last] World Cup. At that time, South Africa had just come out of the apartheid era and the West Indies were the best team in the world," he said.

"We should have beaten them and that day still ranks as one of the worst of my cricket career. But that statement had no racial connotation."

Lara said he hoped the outburst would not spoil the match between the two teams in Karachi on Monday. "I'd appreciate it if it ends here. It doesn't reflect any racial prejudice on my part and I would like to continue to be part of South Africa development in the future," he said.

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