Wood and Malan give England fitness boost for T20 World Cup final

Sport

England received a boost on the eve of the T20 World Cup final when Mark Wood and Dawid Malan significantly stepped up their involvement in training, putting them potentially back in contention for the game against Pakistan – particularly if the predicted bad weather pushes the start back to Monday afternoon.

Wood, who has a hip injury, and Malan, who has a groin strain, both missed Thursday’s semi-final victory over India and had seemed extremely unlikely to return to fitness in time for the final. On Saturday Jos Buttler was not exactly encouraging about their chances: “They’re both improving,” he said. “Of course it’s not too many days since not being fit enough for the semi-final but we’ll give them every chance possible.”

When England started their training session 90 minutes later first Wood and then Malan were put through individual running drills on the outfield at the MCG, away from the main group. But when the players moved to the nets Wood was able to bowl at close to full pace while Malan had an extended batting session without apparent discomfort.

On Saturday night the Australian Bureau of Meteorology estimated the chance of rain in Melbourne on Sunday was 100%, with the “chance of a thunderstorm, possibly severe with heavy falls”. England’s selection will depend not only on when the game starts but also how long it is likely to be, with organisers able to reduce it to as few as 10 overs a side if significant time is lost.

“We’ve been so fluid and so flexible and trying to really stay in the moment and adapt to what’s presented to us,” Chris Jordan said. “If it is a shortened game, I’m sure the creative heads will get together and decide what our best course of action will be – but I can guarantee that every single member of this squad is ready to step in at any givenmoment.”

Jordan came into the side for the semi-final and is likely to keep his place if Wood is not fit to play. He is in daily contact with Jofra Archer – “As everyone knows he’s family to me,” Jordan said – and, if this final were to go to a super over, would like to follow his great friend, who did the job at the 50-over World Cup final in 2019, in taking the ball.

“I bowled the first super over for England in international cricket [against Pakistan in Sharjah in 2015], and I bowled another in Auckland [against New Zealand in 2019] as well,” he said. “I have a 100% record so far and I want to keep it up.”

There was sad news for the squad with the death announced of David English at the age of 76. The actor and cricket enthusiast who wrote the Bunbury Tails, about rabbits playing the sport, funded the Bunbury schools festivals in which dozens of future internationals took part. Among those are Ben Stokes and Buttler, who tweeted: “So sad to hear the news of David English passing away. One of life’s great characters, so fun to spend time with and producer of some of the best English cricketers through his wonderful Bunbury Festivals. RIP.”