England opening batsman Rory Burns is an injury concern ahead of the second Test against South Africa after hurting himself playing football in training.
Burns is set for a scan on his left ankle and is currently a major doubt for the Test that begins on Friday. If Burns is ruled out, it wouldn’t be the first instance in recent times of an England player missing a Test match after injuring themselves playing football during a training session.
Last winter Jonny Bairstow missed two ODIs, a T20I and a Test on England’s tour of Sri Lanka after injuring his ankle playing football in training. He was not selected for the second Test of that series despite making a full return to fitness.
England director of cricket Ashley Giles is a known opponent of football being played in warm-ups. After his appointment to the role at the start of 2019, Giles said: “If you look at what football does, the benefits from a psychological and fun point of view are outstripped by the dangers from it, but we will discuss that. I am not coming in with an iron rod right now.”
At the time, Giles said that he would discuss the issue with England captains Joe Root and Eoin Morgan and the head coach at the time, Trevor Bayliss.
Last month, when a video of the Gloucester rugby union team warming-up playing cricket was widely viewed online, Giles, Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad engaged in some light-hearted back-and-forth on Twitter, with Stokes commenting: “Nothing better than a different sport in warm-ups… agree?”
Completely agree. Really helps to get the competitive juices flowing. Great to see other sports varying their warm ups like cricket isn’t it @Gilo
— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) December 9, 2019
Should Burns’ injury rule him out of the Test, Zak Crawley, who debuted in the second Test of England’s recent tour of New Zealand, would be the likely replacement at the top of the order. Another option would be to promote Joe Denly and have Jonny Bairstow move up to No.3, with the healthy again Ollie Pope slotting in at No.6.
The news is the latest chapter of England’s chaotic start of the tour that has seen over half of the touring squad fall ill at one point or another. Jofra Archer is also a doubt for the second Test after sustaining an elbow injury, and he only bowled six deliveries in training on New Year’s Day.