Denly injury prompts England re-think

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The Independent Online

England captain Andrew Strauss and the team management will look at whether they should continue to play football as part of their warm-up after batsman Joe Denly suffered an injury in a practice game today.

The 23-year-old had to be carried off the Oval pitch after a tackle from Owais Shah which left him on crutches with an injured knee. He is now expected to miss the first one-day international against Australia tomorrow.

The clash left Denly injured on the ground for 15 minutes before he was helped off by England physio Kirk Russell and head of security Reg Dickason.

The injury is sure to raise questions over whether a contact sport such as football should form part of the team's pre-match preparations and Strauss told Sky Sports: "The reason we play football is that it's something the guys enjoy and it gets the blood flowing.

"We feel, or certainly had felt, if it's played sensibly the chance of getting injured is very slight. Unfortunately it has happened today and if people are going to get injured playing it, we've got to look at it.

"Up to this stage we have never had anyone missing cricket through playing it so it's something we've got to look at. You'd like to think players would be sensible enough in the warm-up not to take it too far.

"When we do play football we have a 'no tackling rule'. Any injury is not ideal, you want a full squad to choose from."

The ritual of playing football before matches has been criticised in the past.

Matt Prior suffered a back spasm while playing football during England's warm up for the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley.

Strauss, who is back in the fold after taking a post-Ashes break, added: "I've had a bit of time with the family, when you do get snippets of time it's important to do that. I feel quite energised, I've had time to let the whole Ashes thing sink in and savour it.

"But now it's back to work, and this one-day series is crucial. As an England side we've shown some improvement recently in one-day cricket but we're still a little bit inconsistent in this form of the game, hopefully we can eradicate that in this series."