Bopara replaces injured Morgan
Eoin Morgan has been ruled out of the World Cup due to the broken finger he sustained in Australia. He has been replaced in England’s 15-man squad by Ravi Bopara.
Morgan flew home from England’s tour on Saturday and yesterday saw a specialist, who decided the fracture of the distal phalanx in the middle finger of his left hand requires surgery.
The left-handed batsman sustained the injury in the fourth Commonwealth Bank Series one-day international at Adelaide on January 26.
Following an initial assessment of severe bruising, the 24-year-old played in the subsequent two ODIs. However, an x-ray ahead of Sunday's final match in Perth revealed the fracture.
Bopara, who is with England Lions in the West Indies, is due to fly back to the UK today - arriving tomorrow morning - in order to depart for the World Cup with the rest of the squad on Saturday.
The right-handed batting all-rounder, who has 54 ODI caps and played in the last World Cup, was part of England’s initial 30-strong party for this year’s showpiece.
Having missed the initial cut, the 25-year-old was expecting to remain with the Lions in the Caribbean until the end of March.
Instead, he will join the senior England squad as they travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh, for warm-up matches against Canada a week tomorrow and Pakistan on Friday week.
England’s first World Cup encounter is against the Netherlands in Nagpur, India, on February 22.
Like Bopara, Morgan also played in the last World Cup but for Ireland - the country of his birth.
Having switched allegiance, he made his England debut in May 2009 during an ODI against West Indies at Bristol.
Morgan has since become a fixture in England’s ODI middle-order with three hundreds and five half-centuries.
Bopara, who last played for England in the NatWest Series against Pakistan in September, has four ODI fifties and 10 wickets - with his medium-pace bowling - to his name.
Speaking on England’s return from Australia, team director Andy Flower was able to be positive about all his injured World Cup squad members aside from Morgan.
“We’ve got good news on most of our players, the guys that came back early are progressing well,” Flower said.
“Eoin Morgan won’t be going to the World Cup. His finger needs to be operated on. So that’s a serious loss to us.
“He’s been a very influential limited-over performer for us since he joined the England team.
“But Ravi Bopara, who is an exciting young cricketer in his own right is going to be joining us.
“He’s flying back from the West Indies where he’s playing cricket with the Lions at the moment.
“He’ll be arriving back in the country tomorrow morning and then joining us on the flight out to Dhaka.”
Flower, who confirmed Morgan would not have recovered in time even for the latter stages of the competition, believes Bopara will aid Andrew Strauss’ bowling options.
“He will also bring a little bit of medium-pace bowling that’ll help out the captain in those middle overs in the sub-continent,” he added.
“So we’re confident that the 15 guys out there will gel together and perform powerfully.”
Strauss agreed that Bopara, who began the winter playing for KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins in South Africa, offers a valuable all-round game.
“He hasn’t had a chance to play for us recently and he’s been playing a lot of cricket around the world and he’s desperate to get back in the ranks so this is his opportunity,” Strauss said.
“And I think we like what he can bring to the game, as Andy said, his bowling as well as his batting but also his ability to clear the ropes in the middle overs.
“That’s going to be important for us and he’s going to be a worthy addition to our squad.”
Strauss sympathised with Middlesex team-mate Morgan, but believes England have the strength in depth to cope without him.
“Over the last 12 or 18 months he’s been the standout batsman for us in one-day cricket,” Strauss added.
“I think we all see the World Cup as a forum in which to showcase your talent and your skills.
“He’s bitterly disappointed to be missing out but unfortunately it’s the nature of the beast that you’re going to get injuries and his has come along at a bad time for him.
“Thankfully he’s a young bloke who is still going to have plenty more opportunities ahead of him and for the time being we’re going to have to make do without him.
“That’s something we’re prepared for and I’m sure we’re going to be able to do.”