Cork's injury adds to Illingworth's woes

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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 paceman 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, described by the team doctor, Philip Bell, as patella tendinitis, is one that Cork has experienced before. He had an operation on his other knee a couple of years ago and needed treatment for this problem during the recent tour of South Africa.

"Dominic says it responded to rest and a bit of physio last year," Illingworth said. However, if the problem proves more severe this time, Cork 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 too struggled in reaching their total of 166 for 9 against the England spin pairing of 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 Smith 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. A decision by the organising committee has been promised before Sunday's opening ceremony in Calcutta.

Nasser Hussain would be the obvious replacement for Smith but as Illingworth pointed out: "Anyone not on the list of 18 names we submitted to the organisers last month might not be eligible."

If the manager's suspicions prove correct, England would have to choose from Mark Ramprakash, Mike Watkinson, Dermot Reeve and Angus Fraser.

Meanwhile, World Cup organisers have asked the United Nations to intervene to break the deadlock created by the refusal of Australia and West Indies to play in Sri Lanka.

They have asked the International Council to request the UN to send an observer to Sri Lanka to determine whether it is unsafe to hold cricket matches there.

The West Indies' World Cup squad, en route to India via London, were forced to return to Barbados when their aircraft developed engine problems 30 minutes after take-off. They later left on another plane.

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