England fitness concerns highlight absence of James Anderson and Stuart Broad

The duo were controversially left out for the West Indies tour.

Rory Dollard
Thursday 03 March 2022 19:16
Ollie Robinson left the field with a lower back problem (Jason O’Brien/PA)
Ollie Robinson left the field with a lower back problem (Jason O’Brien/PA)

The shadows of James Anderson and Stuart Broad loomed large over the third day of England’s Test warm-up in the West Indies, with fitness concerns forcing Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson out of action.

With just five days to go before the series opener in Antigua, the tourists were forced to continue their only practice game without two nailed-on members of their first-choice XI.

Having controversially omitted both Anderson and Broad, the two leading wicket-takers in England’s Test history, injury issues in the bowling ranks were the last thing the tourists will have wanted.

Wood, the standout quick during a dismal Ashes campaign, has yet to play any part against a CWI President’s XI and did not travel to the ground with his team-mates after feeling unwell over the past 48 hours. Even if he does rally to play some part on Friday, he will do so with a vastly reduced workload under his belt.

And Robinson, whose conditioning was publicly called into question during the trip to Australia, left the field with a lower back problem midway through his first spell. By then he had taken the only wicket of the first session, with Devon Thomas lbw to one that nipped back in on a docile pitch.

Uncapped seamers Saqib Mahmood and Matt Fisher, who had not been due to feature in the match, were both called into action instead as they got an unexpected chance to prove their credentials in soporific conditions.

Both bowled tidily but without serious threat on a sluggish surface, with spin doing most of the work as the home side fell to 229 for seven at tea, 237 behind.

First-choice spinner Jack Leach took a second of the innings, Dan Lawrence claimed two wickets with his occasional spin, including captain Shane Dowrich, and skipper Joe Root grabbed one with his part-time off-breaks.

As a guide for next week’s series opener at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, it all felt rather inconsequential as attention drifted towards England’s absentees.

Chris Woakes, now the senior bowler on tour, was wicketless through 14 overs and did not bowl between lunch and tea. Mahmood, who came into the side after Wood failed to make the journey and took over when Robinson pulled up, bowled 7.3 overs and seems likeliest to benefit if either is ruled out next week.

Fisher, meanwhile, hastily marked his run-up during a drinks break after a quick outing in the nets and was handed four overs.

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