Gary Ballance breaks finger but is fit for World Cup

Flagging England’s batting options reduced in warm-ups

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The Independent Online

England batsman Gary Ballance has fractured a finger but has been passed fit for the World Cup. Ballance, who was recalled to the one-day squad as a replacement for dropped former captain Alastair Cook, was struck on the little finger in his right hand during fielding drills in Canberra.

The 25-year-old will remain with the side for the ongoing Tri-Series against Australia and India and no batting cover has been added. An England and Wales Cricket Board statement read: “Gary Ballance has a fractured right little finger, sustained during fielding practice in Canberra. Ballance will be available for the ICC Cricket World Cup and, therefore, we will not be calling another player into the squad.”

Ballance has yet to play since England arrived Down Under, with coach Peter Moores apparently set on his preferred batting order. Ballance and opener Alex Hales are the only members of the 15-man party who have not appeared in either warm-up match or Friday’s three-wicket defeat by Australia.

It is not yet known whether Ballance will be available before the end of the current series, with England next in action against India on Tuesday.

However, England’s reluctance to summon a replacement suggests they are not overly concerned about the injury, but have already indicated that any call-ups to the existing squad would likely come from the Lions party in South Africa. That squad is being captained by Jonathan Trott, who is also the form batsman, having hit an outstanding double century against South Africa A.

Whether or not he is currently deemed ready for a full international return, having not featured since leaving last winter’s Ashes with a stress-related condition, is unclear.

Meanwhile, the former England captain and all-rounder, Andrew Flintoff, is set to meet up with his former team during practice at The Gabba today. The 37-year-old retired after the triumphant 2009 Ashes series but made a Twenty20 comeback last summer and is in Australia having earned a Big Bash contract with Brisbane Heat.

England are in town ahead of their Tri-Series clash with India on Tuesday and an ECB spokesman confirmed that Flintoff would be linking up with the squad at nets.

Eoin Morgan had little time to reflect on his first century since replacing Cook as one-day skipper as England slumped to defeat in Sydney. Morgan hit 121 off 136 balls and his superb knock helped to lift England towards respectability after slumping to 33 for four, but it was not enough to stop Australia claiming a three-wicket victory.

The Australians were set a target of 235 and they reached that total with a massive 61 balls remaining as the hosts began their Tri-Series campaign in style. Morgan, though, made no effort to conceal his disappointment at the result.

“Overall, I’m really disappointed,” he said. “We came into the game with a lot of good preparation under our belt, and within the side we would have had a lot of expectation on ourselves, so we have a lot of disappointed guys. We’re going to have to dust ourselves off and come back in four days [against India].

“There are certain positives we can take from the game but, ultimately, being four down so early has cost us. Simply, we weren’t good enough to adapt to the wicket and play accordingly. They bowled well up front, but nothing that we shouldn’t be capable of dealing with,” he added.

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