England put their foot in it yet again
ENGLAND’S troubled tour of South Africa hit a new low on the eve of the second Test in Cape Town, with batsman Rory Burns ruled out for the remainder of the series with an ankle injury sustained while playing football.
Burns was taking part in a kickabout ahead of the team’s final training session at Newlands when he landed awkwardly on his left ankle after taking a shot on goal. He immediately limped out of the game in visible pain and was sent for scans at a local hospital.
The results showed the opener had damaged ligaments and would not be fit to play any further part in the four-match series.
England are also bracing themselves for bad news about key paceman Jofra Archer, who has been experiencing pain in his right elbow.
Archer has only bowled a handful of gentle deliveries over the past two days of net practice and it would be a major surprise to see him take the field at Newlands this morning with such little preparatory work behind him.
England arrived from Johannesburg on New Year’s Eve hoping their bad luck was behind them after their first two weeks in South Africa were beset by an illness that swept through the camp, laying low 11 players and six support staff.
But, having lost the first Test by 107 runs, they have started 2020 in the same disappointing manner they ended 2019.
Burns’ absence, which is expected to see Zak Crawley handed his second Test cap as stand-in, robs England of their most dependable top-order batsman of the past year and one of their best close catchers.
Jonny Bairstow missed the Galle Test against Sri Lanka last winter after suffering an ankle injury of his own while playing football.
He no longer joins in with the daily workout and neither does Joe Denly, who was also injured by a tackle from team-mate Owais Shah several years ago.
Yesterday, squad members Ollie Pope and Lancashire’s Matt Parkinson were seen tussling for possession of the ball, with the latter’s spikes leaving their mark on his team-mate’s leg.
Burns’ issue was not as the result of a tackle, with captain Joe Root the closest man to him and any contact between the two almost non-existent.
Ashley Giles, director of men’s cricket at the ECB, will surely take a dim view of developments, having previously banned football during his time in charge of Warwickshire and Lancashire.
“It’s been one of those tours I’m afraid,” said captain Joe Root.
“It’s been frustrating throughout, but these things happen in sport.
“You’ve got to manage them as best we can, and we are trying to make sure that if anyone does pick up illness or injury then they are fit and ready to go as soon as possible.”
He also confirmed Mark Wood remained unavailable with the side strain he arrived on tour with and that Jack Leach had not bowled enough following his brush with illness to be considered.
“They have not managed to pull up as well as we would have liked, and that is a frustration,” added Root.
Rory Burns has been ruled out for the rest of the Test series