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WI vs Eng 2022 – Paul Collingwood says no need to panic as injury and illness undermine Test preparations


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Fast-bowling depth faces test but coach backs squad to cover off possible absentees

Paul Collingwood, the interim head coach, has urged England not to panic after Ollie Robinson suffered a back spasm and an unwell Mark Wood was unable to take the field after undergoing precautionary blood tests during the team’s solitary warm-up fixture in Coolidge.

Speaking at the close of the third day’s play, in which England’s quicks – stand-ins Saqib Mahmood and Matt Fisher included – claimed a solitary wicket between them, Collingwood insisted that England had the bowling depth to account for the possible absences of Robinson and Wood, with the first Test against West Indies looming large on Tuesday.

“[Robinson]’s got a back spasm, it’s not ideal. We’ll know more about that in the next couple of days,” Collingwood said, after England’s opening bowler had left the field inside the first half-hour of the day, having just claimed the first wicket of the morning.

“When someone walks off like that it doesn’t look good but these kind of spasms can heal as quickly as they come. We’ll just have to assess.I certainly don’t think Ollie will be bowling tomorrow, that would be too much of a risk.”

This is the second consecutive match for England in which Robinson has succumbed to a back spasm, after experiencing the same problem during the final Test of the Ashes in Hobart. At the time, Robinson’s fitness was called into question, most notably by England’s bowling coach Jon Lewis in an end-of-day interview. However Collingwood said it was unfair to link Robinson’s current injury to those comments.

“I think that’s unfair. As a bowler you do pick up injuries, it’s something we’re always on top of with Ollie and he knows that. But he’s working hard, as hard as anyone else, and it’s unfortunate something like that happens.

“He’s very young in Test cricket. Test cricket is a hell of a lot different to playing a four-day county match. Sometimes we expect these guys to come from county cricket and be the finished article. They’re certainly not, not skill-wise and not physically.”

In further troubling news for England, Wood was unable to take the field for the second day running, after leaving the ground early with a non-Covid related illness. The lack of match practice is a concern for a bowler with a history of injury problems, but Collingwood is still hopeful that he will be fit to play on Friday’s final day of the warm-up, and thereafter the first Test

“Mark has gone for precautionary blood tests but I’m hoping to get two or three spells out of him tomorrow,” Collingwood said. “It’s pretty much all he can get in terms of match practice, but his loads have been good in training. I can’t add any more days to the schedule so hopefully it will be enough.”

If England had hoped to move the narrative on from the omissions of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, then the events of this warm-up game have been a setback. However, Collingwood is adamant that England’s 16-man squad has ample cover in Mahmood and Fisher.

“We’re not going to panic,” he said. “It was a great opportunity for Saqi to come in and bowl some overs. Even Fish to bowl some overs. We have got ready replacements in terms of a squad of 16.”

Collingwood also insisted that England’s so-called “red-ball reset” was going well, with a real “feel-good factor” among the squad since arriving in the West Indies.

“People might think that’s ridiculous after what’s happened in the Ashes but it’s a new start, new beginning for a lot of them and it’s got a fresh feel to it,” he said.

“I think it feels different to everyone. Whether you’re a player or the management. And that’s not saying anything was wrong during the Ashes but the fact is that we’ve had two years of bubble life which has tested everyone.

“The fixture list, the schedule, I think it’s pushed everybody to the limits. So you know coming to a place like the Caribbean it’s a great place to play cricket and it has a fresh feel to it and a fresh start.

“We want exactly the same type of thing that happened in the white-ball in 2015 and sometimes it’s just an attitude thing overnight that can make the difference.”

Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby



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