Mark Wood applauded Ben Duckett’s “bravery and skill” after the opening batter led England’s remarkable counteroffensive to disrupt India’s bowlers on day two of the third Test.

India racked up an imposing 445 and kept England in the field for 130.5 overs in sapping conditions but Duckett put pressure back on the hosts with a boundary-laden 133 not out from just 118 balls.

The left-hander helped England motor along to 207 for two at nearly six an over by stumps, manipulating the field with his customary sweeps off the spinners and straight drives and carves to the quicks.

Given the circumstances of the match, as well as the 1-1 scoreline in the series, this was a monumental effort from Duckett, whose first iteration as a Test cricketer ended in India in November 2016.

“To be that far behind in the game and go out and play like that showed real bravery and skill,” England team-mate Wood said.

“Sometimes it looked like India weren’t sure of their fields. The way they changed the field and then he’d hit it somewhere else, it was such a skilful innings against a good attack.

“He’s a nightmare to bowl at in the nets, we try to get him to leave one but he never leaves any.

“It’s been hot, he’s spent all that time in the field, so mentally to have that capability to then go out there and play with the freedom and clarity of mind to play those shots and pick the right ball and still be there at the end… I’m delighted for him.”

Duckett, who put on an opening 89 with Zak Crawley and 93 with Ollie Pope, had a torrid time on his only tour previous of India as he was worked over by Ravichandran Ashwin before being dropped for several years.

Ashwin has dismissed Duckett five times in five Tests but was curiously not introduced until the 12th over, when England were on 71 for none, and he claimed his 500th Test wicket by dismissing Crawley.

There was no stopping Duckett, who collected 21 fours and two sixes before surviving a tight lbw shout against Ashwin in the final over, with the ball found to have pitched a fraction outside leg stump.

“Ben Duckett is a phenomenal talent so credit to him, he’s made a wonderful hundred,” Ashwin said. “I wanted to clap, but the hardcore competitor in me didn’t allow me to clap, but I’m very happy for Ben.

“I would have really loved to bowl at him when he was not at 60-70 runs. He is a very different player to bowl at when he is on nought. A couple of his shots, the slog sweeps were really, really special.”

Wood was the pick of England’s attack with four for 114, while he also affected the run out of the dangerous Sarfaraz Khan, on a pitch that is likely to get worse for batting as the match progresses.

England squandered five opportunities over four-and-a-half sessions by dropping three catches and missing two referrals although Wood was just happy to get off the pitch by the end.

“I’m absolutely over the moon to be off my feet,” Wood said. “It was hard, hard toil. It’s a good wicket for the batters but the odd ball spins, the odd ball doesn’t bounce or there’s a bit of reverse.

“It keeps you in the game where you feel in the game but it’s not a wicket where you blast people out, it feels to me like hard work and you have to try and try and try.

“It was a bizarre day, it almost felt like we should be getting more wickets but then the game wasn’t going anywhere. Personally, I would have liked to have gone for less runs.

“Yes, my role is to be attacking and try to get wickets but sometimes I felt like I maybe leaked a bit too much. But I’m delighted that I got four wickets.”

Mark Wood took a couple of wickets on his recall but England were blunted by India’s steady hands of Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja on the opening day of the third Test in Rajkot.

Left out at Visakhapatnam, Wood returned as England picked two seamers for the first time in the series and he snared Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill after Ben Stokes had lost the toss on his 100th Test.

Tom Hartley dismissed Rajat Patidar as India lurched to 33 for three, with the suspicion some early-morning moisture was responsible for aiding bowling conditions on what was expected to be a flat pitch.

But as temperatures rose in Gujarat and the surface gradually flattened out, Rohit and Jadeja steadied the ship with an unbroken 152-run stand as India went to tea on 185 for three.

Rohit was dropped on 27 off Hartley – and overturned an lbw shout off James Anderson three balls later – but he absorbed the pressure and found a willing ally in Jadeja. India’s captain thumped 11 fours and two meaty straight sixes off Hartley to go to tea on 97 not out.

Jadeja, meanwhile, was unbeaten on 68 on his return from a hamstring injury to help lead the recovery when India found themselves in deep trouble as the series, level at 1-1, resumed after a 10-day break.

England’s quicks shared the new ball and were both punished for overpitching but Wood hit his stride to see off Jaiswal. A double centurion in Vizag, there is a suspicion Jaiswal is more susceptible to express pace and bounce and his tentative poke caught the outside edge and carried to Joe Root.

Wood was agonisingly close to Gill’s off-stump after beating the inside edge in his next over. Perhaps unsettled by that, India’s number three played inside the line to the next ball and nicked off.

India were three down inside nine overs as Hartley struck in his opening instalment. It was an innocuous delivery but the ball appeared to stick in the surface and turned sharply, with Patidar miscuing a looping catch to cover.

Rather than expose debutant Sarfaraz Khan, Jadeja moved up one place to partner another old-stager in Rohit, who was hit on the grill by a spiteful Wood lifter.

India’s captain was then reprieved after an intended flick caught the edge and whizzed to Root, who could not cling on to a tough chance at slip.

Rohit was then saved by an inside edge after being given out lbw off Anderson – three balls later – and after weathering some sustained pressure, Rohit and Jadeja restored some calm.

Rohit was characteristically fluent through the leg-side, tucking off his hips and legs, and survived an lbw shout off Hartley on 49 to reach his first Test 50 in nine innings. His lean patch has followed India’s World Cup final defeat but any building pressure has been eased by this knock.

Hartley toiled through 17 overs at one end – only interrupted by one from Rehan Ahmed just before lunch – as Anderson and Wood took it in turns at the other. Anderson was surgical and found a hint of reverse, while Wood bounded in but both were unrewarded for their endeavours.

Jadeja was at first content to be the junior partner in the union but he reached an important 50 on his home ground before tea.

There were muted appeals when Rohit, on 87, missed a sweep off Rehan, who was retained after a visa problem earlier in the week.

While it was inconclusive whether the ball had caught any of the glove, it definitely hit his forearm and would have gone on to thud into the stumps but England did not review.

Mark Wood vindicated his England recall with the wickets of in-form India batters Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill on a lively opening morning of the third Test.

Left out at Visakhapatnam, Wood returned as England selected two seamers for the first time in this series in Rajkot and he took the edges of two batters who had passed three figures last time out.

Wood also sconed Rohit Sharma on the helmet with a spiteful lifter while what was expected to be the flattest pitch so far played against type as Tom Hartley found grip and turn to dismiss Rajat Patidar.

Joe Root spilled a tough chance when Rohit was on 27 while the India captain overturned an lbw verdict off James Anderson three balls later before going to lunch unbeaten on 52 in India’s 93 for three.

Ravindra Jadeja shuffled up the order on his return from injury and restored calm after India lurched from 22 for none to 33 for three after Ben Stokes had called incorrectly at the toss on his 100th Test.

There was initially little to trouble India’s openers as the series, level at 1-1, resumed after a 10-day break. But while Jaiswal made a sparkling double century in Vizag, there is a perception he struggles against express pace and he poked uncertainly to his second delivery off Wood and perished.

Wood was tantalisingly close to Gill’s off-stump in his following over after finding some inward movement. Perhaps spooked by that, India’s number three played inside the line and feathered the next ball through to Ben Foakes on his 31st birthday as Wood collected his second wicket in six balls.

Rajat Patidar was undone by the surface as Hartley’s innocuous delivery in his first over held up before turning sharply and led to a withdrawn cut shot that caught the bat and looped gently to cover.

Rather than expose debutant Sarfaraz Khan, Jadeja moved up one place to partner Rohit, who had looked unflustered at the other end but was hit flush on his grill by the excellent Wood.

He disrupted Hartley’s lengths with a counteroffensive but, seeking a third four in an over, a whip across the line took the edge and flew to Root, who was unable to react quickly enough to the chance.

The umpire’s finger went up when Anderson thudded into Rohit’s pad but the opener was saved by an inside edge on review. Rohit and Jadeja (24 not out) settled from that point on and there were few further alarms in the rest of the session.

England captain Ben Stokes downplayed his landmark appearance against India in Rajkot this week, insisting that joining the prestigious 100 Test club was “just a number”.

Stokes is set to become the 16th Englishman to three figures on Thursday a little over a decade on from his Adelaide debut, where he memorably had a testy exchange with Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

That combative nature has been a constant in a career of stratospheric highs and crushing lows, but he is naturally averse to celebrating personal milestones, as evidenced most acutely at Headingley in 2019.

 

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On that occasion, Stokes barely acknowledged his hundred and only celebrated after hauling England to a famous victory and he stayed true to type when asked to talk up his 100th Test match.

“I guess it’s a sign of longevity,” he said, almost apologetically. “It’s just a number. Every Test is just as important as the next one. Then there’s the next one, which will be 101 – it’s just one more.

“I don’t want it to sound like I’m not thankful for the opportunities I’ve had. There will be a time when I can (reflect on what he has achieved) a bit more.

“But milestones and stuff like that – it’s not done until it’s done.

“While I’m still playing and wanting to achieve a lot, driving the team, giving individuals what I think is the best platform for them to be successful is where all my thoughts are at the moment.”

Another character trait that has been evident in Stokes the captain is his eagerness to roll the dice and risk defeat in pursuit of victory, largely paying off with six of the former and 14 of the latter.

He is therefore highly unlikely to find himself in the same situation Sir Alastair Cook did in England’s last visit to the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in November 2016, when the tourists received some criticism for declaring too late and setting India 310 to win in a minimum of 49 overs.

With this series deadlocked at 1-1, the temptation could be to avoid defeat at all costs after losing last time out but Stokes was having none of it.

“I don’t get that much pleasure out of a draw,” Stokes said. “I’d much rather lose trying to win. But not winning doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Everything is just aimed towards what can we do.

“Losing always sucks but we’ve lost all (six) games trying to win them. We’ll never go to the grave not knowing if we could have done something a bit different.”

Stokes’ immediate thoughts are on whether to stick with James Anderson and a trio of callow spinners or reintroduce Mark Wood and go with two specialist fast bowlers for the first time on this tour of India.

While Wood was wicketless in the win at Hyderabad and made way for Anderson in the Visakhapatnam defeat, his express pace offers an extra dimension on a pitch renowned for being batter-friendly.

“If we were to go with two seamers the reasons why we would look at Jimmy and Woody would be I just like to have a point of difference,” Stokes said. “And India is never a three-seamer option.”

Even though Jack Leach is out of the last three Tests, Stokes will stick to his pledge not to bowl in this series following surgery on a longstanding left knee injury 11 weeks ago.

Stokes, who last bowled competitively in July last year, sent down three overs in training on Tuesday morning at what he estimated was about 70 per cent intensity.

“It’s little and often now,” the 32-year-old said. “We don’t have a plan with where I go with my intensity. It’s just how I feel at the time, but also not getting too far ahead. It was another step forward.

“But I’ve pinky promised my physio I won’t be loosening up to bowl even if everything is feeling well because that would just be a risk that’s not worth it.”

Jack Leach has been ruled out of England’s second Test against India, pushing Somerset team-mate Shoaib Bashir one step closer to an international debut.

England will settle on their XI for Friday’s match in Visakhapatnam after taking a final look at the pitch, but will need to rethink in the absence of their senior spinner.

The 32-year-old was in visible discomfort for most of England’s remarkable victory in the first Test, where he played a restricted role, and finally gave in to the inevitable after sitting out Wednesday’s training session with bruising and swelling on his left knee.

“He’s ruled out of the second Test. Unfortunately the knock he took resulted in a haematoma,” said captain Ben Stokes, who hailed Leach as a “warrior” last week for struggling though the series-opener.

“It’s a big shame for us and a big shame for him. It’s something we’re assessing every day but the medical team have taken over on that so hopefully it’s not something too serious that keeps him out for longer.”

While Leach was an onlooker at nets, 20-year-old Bashir joined in for the first time since complications over his visa application were resolved.

Bashir racked up 10,000 unwanted air miles shuttling between Abu Dhabi, London and Hyderabad, where he arrived just in time to take in the final day of England’s audacious victory, and is now in the selection mix.

Record wicket-taker James Anderson is pushing hard for a recall, alongside or instead of fellow seamer Mark Wood, while Rehan Ahmed’s role could come into question after a quiet game with the ball.

But the fact that Bashir, who has a gossamer-thin first-class record of 10 wickets in six games at an average of 67, is being discussed shows just how far Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum are willing to push the envelope.

The success of the inexperienced Tom Hartley on debut last week, taking a second-innings seven-for to send his side 1-0 up, can only have emboldened Stokes.

It was him who first floated the youngster’s name six months ago after watching a video montage of Bashir bowling to former England captain Sir Alastair Cook on his first Somerset appearance.

“To be perfectly honest, our training camp in Abu Dhabi was the first real live look I got at Bash,” Stokes said.

“The first time I saw him was on Twitter. I think the County Championship put a little clip together of him bowling against Sir Alastair.

“I just saw something. With the height he bowled from, it was very obvious that he put a lot of action, a lot of revolutions, on the ball.

“I’m in a WhatsApp group with (director of cricket) Rob Key and Baz (McCullum). So I actually did forward the clip on and said, ‘Have a look at this, this could be something we could work with on our India tour’. It just progressed from there.”

Stokes realises how raw Bashir is and takes the responsibility of managing his fast-tracking to the international arena seriously.

“He’s a young kid who’s finding his way… I was about to say he’s finding his way in first-class cricket, but he’s on a Test tour now,” he said.

“He’s a real sponge at the moment and I think that’s because of how young he is. He’s got an unbelievable coach here in Jeetan Patel and he’s also got someone in Jack leach who is a massive help, particularly with their Somerset connection.

“If he was to play on this tour, the great thing he has going for him is what is there to lose? That is how I will be thinking about it if he gets the chance to play.

“Just make sure I give him the best experience I possibly can because you only play your first Test once. If he does play then I’ll be trying to make it as fun and enjoyable for him as I can.”

Mark Wood feels England’s audacious victory in the first Test has changed the dynamics of the Test series, insisting “we’ve given them something to think about” ahead of next week’s clash in Visakhapatnam.

England completed a famous 28-run win in Hyderabad, bouncing back from 190 behind after the first innings to complete a success already being talked about as one of their best ever away results.

Debutant spinner Tom Hartley outperformed the decorated home attack with his seven-wicket haul on day four and Ollie Pope’s 196 exemplified the tourists’ ability to control the game with sweeps and reverse sweeps, raising questions about how India will respond.

When England last travelled here in 2021, India responded to losing the series opener by preparing extreme turning pitches and walked away 3-1 winners, but it is not at all clear that such an approach would suit them this time around.

And pace bowler Wood is excited to place the ball firmly back in their court.

“I don’t know what they will produce next, they have the potential to do any wicket they want. But now we’ve given them something to think about,” he said.

“It’s one of our greatest wins, that tells you how big it was, and now we know we can do it. They now have to come up with a different plan.

“We’ve only won one game and there are five in the series, so it’s another big task to win the next game, but we’ve proved to India it will be a battle and we’re not going to give up.

“It’s not a foregone conclusion that we are going to turn up here and they’re gonna spin us out. Popey has played a fantastic knock and they’re now going to have to go analyse, like we would do if things didn’t go well, and think how they are going to try and combat that.

“We’re playing differently. It’s not just plodding forward and trying to survive. We’re trying to put the pressure back on India. Their spinners were going at over four an over – that would have never happened in the last series.

“People call it ‘Bazball’, but it’s putting that pressure on when the time comes and that’s how we’re trying to win games.”

Wood played as a solitary seam bowler in the opener, delivering just 25 overs in the match and a new ball spell of just one over in the second innings.

His was a unique role by English standards but one he or James Anderson may be asked to perform again by captain Ben Stokes in the second Test.

“I actually said to Jimmy that I found it more bizarre not having anyone to talk to,” said Wood of going it alone.

“Going with four spinners and myself I knew my role would be very different to what I was used to. It was a bit odd, a bit weird at times, but spin was doing the damage.

“Very rarely would you ever think you’d bowl just one and then be off but I trust what Stokesy says. I’ll give it everything for one over and when he says ‘rest’ I’m not annoyed; I get it, we’re going to spin now.

“It could (happen again) depending on what they produce. Going forward, for all the seam bowling group, we know that could be the statement and it’s about getting your mind around how to approach it.”

Mark Wood feels England’s audacious victory in the first Test has changed the dynamics of the Test series, insisting “we’ve given them something to think about” ahead of next week’s clash in Visakhapatnam.

England completed a famous 28-run win in Hyderabad, bouncing back from 190 behind after the first innings to complete a success already being talked about as one of their best ever away results.

Debutant spinner Tom Hartley outperformed the decorated home attack with his seven-wicket haul on day four and Ollie Pope’s 196 exemplified the tourists’ ability to control the game with sweeps and reverse sweeps, raising questions about how India will respond.

When England last travelled here in 2021, India responded to losing the series opener by preparing extreme turning pitches and walked away 3-1 winners, but it is not at all clear that such an approach would suit them this time around.

And pace bowler Wood is excited to place the ball firmly back in their court.

“I don’t know what they will produce next, they have the potential to do any wicket they want. But now we’ve given them something to think about,” he said.

“It’s one of our greatest wins, that tells you how big it was, and now we know we can do it. They now have to come up with a different plan.

“We’ve only won one game and there are five in the series, so it’s another big task to win the next game, but we’ve proved to India it will be a battle and we’re not going to give up.

“It’s not a foregone conclusion that we are going to turn up here and they’re gonna spin us out. Popey has played a fantastic knock and they’re now going to have to go analyse, like we would do if things didn’t go well, and think how they are going to try and combat that.

“We’re playing differently. It’s not just plodding forward and trying to survive. We’re trying to put the pressure back on India. Their spinners were going at over four an over – that would have never happened in the last series.

“People call it ‘Bazball’, but it’s putting that pressure on when the time comes and that’s how we’re trying to win games.”

Wood played as a solitary seam bowler in the opener, delivering just 25 overs in the match and a new ball spell of just one over in the second innings.

His was a unique role by English standards but one he or James Anderson may be asked to perform again by captain Ben Stokes in the second Test.

“I actually said to Jimmy that I found it more bizarre not having anyone to talk to,” said Wood of going it alone.

“Going with four spinners and myself I knew my role would be very different to what I was used to. It was a bit odd, a bit weird at times, but spin was doing the damage.

“Very rarely would you ever think you’d bowl just one and then be off but I trust what Stokesy says. I’ll give it everything for one over and when he says ‘rest’ I’m not annoyed; I get it, we’re going to spin now.

“It could (happen again) depending on what they produce. Going forward, for all the seam bowling group, we know that could be the statement and it’s about getting your mind around how to approach it.”

Tom Hartley will make his Test debut as one of three spinners as England took a major selection gamble for their series opener against India in Hyderabad.

Hartley, the Lancashire left-armer, joins the established Jack Leach and teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed in an attack that suggests the tourists expect lavish turn.

Mark Wood has been picked as the only seam bowler in the side, meaning England’s record wicket-taker James Anderson sits out.

With Wood operating best in short, rapid bursts, England are ready to embrace an entirely different rhythm of cricket. Joe Root’s off-breaks are also likely to feature heavily and Stokes has even suggested he could open the bowling with the part-timer.

Ben Foakes returns as wicketkeeper, with Jonny Bairstow reverting to a specialist batting role at number five.

Mark Wood admits England’s World Cup blowout “really hurt” and is desperate to put things right on his return to Indian soil with the Test team.

Wood was part of the side that slumped to a seventh-place finish at the tournament a matter of weeks ago, with the defending champions ruthlessly exposed during a handful of stinging defeats.

Fresh from playing a crucial role in England’s Ashes comeback over the summer, Wood was unable to lift the 50-over side in the same way, chipping in with just six wickets in seven matches and going at 6.46 runs an over.

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s first Test in Hyderabad, where he is expected to provide the pace in spin-friendly conditions, Wood is eager to put those 50-over struggles firmly behind him.

“I didn’t perform well in the World Cup and that was my last involvement so I feel like I’ve got a point to prove a little bit here,” he said.

“I was very disappointed with that whole campaign, personally and as a team. Conditions might not be favourable for me but I’ll be trying to put a better show than I did at the World Cup. We came here with big expectations and we didn’t live up to it, nowhere near up to it.

“I was really upset with it. For about a week once I got home I was thinking, ‘Why did I do that?’ or ‘Why was this happening?’, ‘What did we do that for?’.

“It really hurt for a while but that’s why there is a hunger to come back into this environment. I’m ready to try to prove that was just a one-off.”

 

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While England’s status as defending champions meant they had been well fancied heading into the World Cup, the odds place them as distant second favourites ahead of the five-match series.

India have not been turned over at home since 2012, when Sir Alastair Cook’s England scored a famous win, losing only three of their 46 subsequent Tests.

The widespread belief that India will prevail again on the kind of turning surfaces that undermined England’s efforts in 2021 is liberating to Wood, who is focusing on the chance to do something special.

“We’ve created history in the past, (winning last year) in Pakistan. It’s a free hit, to be honest,” he said.

“Not many teams come here and win. If we give it a good go, we could go down in flames, but if we give it a go, it’s no different to any other time.”

The majority of England’s XI seems to be locked in, with Harry Brook’s return home for personal reasons opening the way for Ben Foakes to return to the team and reclaim the wicketkeeping gloves from Jonny Bairstow.

Wood and James Anderson are favoured to take seam bowling duties, with Jack Leach likely to be joined by one of Tom Hartley or Rehan Ahmed in the spin ranks.

The squad’s fourth spinner, 20-year-old Shoaib Bashir, missed a second training session on Tuesday after visa complications kept him grounded in Abu Dhabi.

John Turner is bidding to push his case for a spot in England’s T20 World Cup title defence during the upcoming tour of the Caribbean.

Turner made his T20 bow less than six months ago but flourished for Hampshire in the Vitality Blast with 21 wickets in 11 matches, leading to a maiden England call-up towards the end of the summer.

A side strain delayed his debut but England remain keen on the 22-year-old and named him in both white-ball squads to face the West Indies, who will co-host the 2024 T20 World Cup alongside the United States.

His selection next summer would be a surprise given those ahead of him in the pecking order, but a woeful 50-over World Cup means England’s established players cannot take their places for granted.

Having been fast-tracked into the England set-up, though, Turner – born and raised in Johannesburg – is trying to take everything in his stride ahead of a potentially pivotal next few weeks in his career.

“All I can do is give my best performances and make life hard for the selectors when it comes to the time for the World Cup – but it definitely does give me some focus,” Turner told the PA news agency.

“Naturally after a World Cup, there will be some form of change – some years more than others. There’s quite an exciting crop of players coming through. It’s quite an exciting time for English cricket.

“Obviously the World Cup was massively disappointing for everyone but, with disappointment, it opens the door for new opportunities and new ways for things to be done.”

Turner, who qualifies for England through a Zambian mother born to English parents, is looking to be a point of difference among fast bowlers with Jofra Archer and Mark Wood absent in the Caribbean.

He describes his pace as his biggest asset even though his action by one former coach was likened to Glenn McGrath, whose precision control of line and length made him one of all-time great fast bowlers.

“It’s obviously an unbelievable comparison to have,” Turner said. “If I was half the bowler he was, I think I’m doing very well.

“I’m not necessarily a traditional English bowler that’s going to try to swing it away and nick you off, I’m just going to try and hit a hard length, be consistent there and bowl as fast as I can.

“I’ve got some variations. During the season, I didn’t necessarily go to them as much as I would have thought, but I’ve got some things to go to when I’m under the pump.

“So far the ride for me has been really positive. It could go horribly wrong but having the backing of everyone and particularly England at the moment gives me massive confidence.”

Turner grew up idolising South Africa great Dale Steyn and sees a bit of the fiery former quick in himself.

“The way he bowled with the aggression, the pace, the ability and everything… he wore his heart on his sleeve and that’s something I probably do, to a certain degree,” Turner said.

Turner has spent the past couple of weeks on an England Lions winter training camp in Abu Dhabi but could make his international bow as part of a new-look ODI side in Antigua on Sunday.

“It would be really emotional and a massive day for me,” Turner added, when asked about the prospect of a first England appearance on this trip.

“Growing up, you’re always wanting to play international cricket and on the biggest stage in the world – that’s what this is. Hopefully just the start of quite a long journey.”

England’s early exit from the World Cup is already guaranteed but assistant coach Carl Hopkinson insists their bottom-of-the-table clash against the Netherlands is no “dead rubber”.

As the tournament finally edges towards the business end, the defending champions have long since become an afterthought in the wider context of the competition.

They have lost six of their seven games and saw their last mathematical chance of a miracle wiped off the table by rivals Australia in Ahmedabad last week.

The best they can hope for now is avoiding a first ever ODI defeat to the Dutch, the only associate nation competing in India, and keep their prospects of reaching the 2025 Champions Trophy alive.

They need a top-eight finish to book their spot, meaning there is no leeway for wallowing in their dreadful form when they take the field in Pune on Wednesday.

The appearance of Hopkinson, a low-key member of the backroom team responsible primarily for fielding, suggested the squad were not keen on issuing their own public call to arms, but he has no qualms about their motivation.

“I don’t think there’s ever a dead rubber when you play for England, to be honest. I think the lads are completely up for it,” he said.

“We’ve got two games in which we need to win both to qualify for the Champions Trophy, so I think that’s there for everybody to see. The guys are going to be obviously up for it and I think we’ll be good.

“We need to win and win well to qualify for the Champions Trophy, which is what we need to do.”

On his unexpected role as carrier of the England message, he added: “I’m not quite sure why I’m the man to explain, (but) I’m an assistant coach with the England team and I’m more than happy to come out and speak about our campaign so far.”

England have named an unchanged side for the last three games, losing emphatically to Sri Lanka, India and Australia, and could belatedly mix things up.

Harry Brook is on hand to add ballast to a badly under-performing top six, but could be added in place of all-rounder Liam Livingstone rather than one of the specialist batters.

Livingstone adds an extra spin option but has not been able to carry his share of the run-scoring load, with just 60 runs in six innings.

Pace bowler Mark Wood, who has been managing a sore knee, could also miss out with Brydon Carse and Gus Atkinson snapping at his heels for a chance.

Wood is the fastest seamer in the squad by a distance, consistently clearing 90mph, but has struggled to keep a lid on his economy rate and has only six wickets at 58.16.

Carse and Atkinson are both likely to form part of England’s white-ball future, leaving captain Jos Buttler and coach Matthew Mott to decide whether now is the time to blood them in a game with live stakes.

Ben Stokes’ fitness was under observation on the eve of the match, with the Test captain carrying various niggles. He missed the first three games here with a hip problem and is set to undergo surgery on his long-standing left-knee injury when he gets back to England.

Former England quick Steve Harmison told the PA news agency this week that the team management should instruct Stokes to leave the camp and go home early in a bid to fast-track his recovery for the new-year Test series in India.

But Hopkinson suggested that idea was not under consideration.

“Knowing Ben, he’ll want to try and play the next game in front of him and try and win that for England,” he said.

“He’s about winning games of cricket for England, so I’d imagine that’s what he’ll be thinking about first and foremost.

“Once he’s obviously made that decision to have the operation, that’s obviously booked in and that’s what he’s going to do, but it’s not before this tournament finishes.”

Mark Wood has denied England were sidetracked by contract negotiations at the World Cup but admitted performances need to improve to live up to the new terms.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has revamped its central contract system in a bid to ward off the growing threat from T20 franchises, handing out long-term deals for the first time in addition to the usual annual extensions.

Wood was one of three players to sign a lucrative three-year term, having previously admitted that a huge offer to play in the United Arab Emirates was testing his resolve, with Joe Root and Harry Brook following suit.

The ECB hoped to have agreements in place before the tournament in India but, while some were finalised swiftly, others dragged on into the campaign and the announcement was finally made last week.

By then England had already played four times, losing three, and things have continued to veer off course, leaving the defending champions rock bottom in 10th place after six rounds.

Wood does not believe the two issues are linked but acknowledges the timing of England’s unexpected dip in results has not been helpful.

“I don’t think they were a distraction, no,” he said.

“If we’re trying to look for excuses, I think players need to look at themselves a little bit more, me included.

“But we’ve not lived up to that reward of the contract. I can understand people’s frustration. I would totally get that.

“Obviously when lads are rewarded with things and then they don’t perform at the level that you think, that’s justified. But it’s not through lack of trying. We are trying our hardest to get this right.

“There’s no cracks in the group. There’s no falling out. Everyone is generally trying to do it for each other. We believe in each other. It’s just not happening the way we want.”

Wood was honest about his own status, insisting that turning out for his country remained his primary motivation while acknowledging the financial muscle being flexed by franchise owners.

At 33, and with a long history of fitness issues behind him, he sought security and was pleased to see the ECB provide it.

“My motivation has always been to play for England. That was always what I’ve wanted to do as a kid growing up. That’s the pinnacle for me, so I’m delighted with the deal,” he said.

“I had some positive conversation with (ECB managing director of men’s cricket) Rob Key, to see if he wanted me to stay in the team or what he envisioned for me going forward with England.

“He said that I was part of the plans and I’m obviously delighted to have signed three years. It gives me security for me and my family.

“But I would definitely have had to consider (franchise offers), which is why I had lots of conversations with Keysy behind the scenes.

“As an injury-prone lad, if I ever have trouble, I’ll be well looked after by England physios.

“If you’re effectively self-employed, you go to these teams and say ‘Who wants me?’. But if I have a bad season or you get a bad injury, who then looks after you? So now I’m looked after by England and employed by England.”

England’s next match sees them take on Australia in Ahmedabad on Saturday, a renewal of hostilities between the old rivals after a tense Ashes summer.

Wood excelled for England in the series, helping inspire his side to a 2-2 draw after coming into the side 2-0 down.

Australia head into the match as favourites given England’s recent struggles and their own strong form, but Wood is still hoping to shift the balance.

“It’s completely different conditions, different players, different timing, different form (from the Ashes) but we’ve played against them for years,” he said.

“In one-day cricket, we’ve done well against them in recent times. I don’t think they’ll be going into this game pooing their pants, but it’s up to us to change that.”

Mark Wood has denied England were sidetracked by contract negotiations at the World Cup but admitted performances need to improve to live up to the new terms.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has revamped its central contract system in a bid to ward off the growing threat from T20 franchises, handing out long-term deals for the first time in addition to the usual annual extensions.

Wood was one of three players to sign a lucrative three-year term, having previously admitted that a huge offer to play in the United Arab Emirates was testing his resolve, with Joe Root and Harry Brook following suit.

The ECB hoped to have agreements in place before the tournament in India but, while some were finalised swiftly, others dragged on into the campaign and the announcement was finally made last week.

By then England had already played four times, losing three, and things have continued to veer off course, leaving the defending champions rock bottom in 10th place after six rounds.

Wood does not believe the two issues are linked but acknowledges the timing of England’s unexpected dip in results has not been helpful.

“I don’t think they were a distraction, no,” he said.

“If we’re trying to look for excuses, I think players need to look at themselves a little bit more, me included.

“But we’ve not lived up to that reward of the contract. I can understand people’s frustration. I would totally get that.

“Obviously when lads are rewarded with things and then they don’t perform at the level that you think, that’s justified. But it’s not through lack of trying. We are trying our hardest to get this right.

“There’s no cracks in the group. There’s no falling out. Everyone is generally trying to do it for each other. We believe in each other. It’s just not happening the way we want.”

Wood was honest about his own status, insisting that turning out for his country remained his primary motivation while acknowledging the financial muscle being flexed by franchise owners.

At 33, and with a long history of fitness issues behind him, he sought security and was pleased to see the ECB provide it.

“My motivation has always been to play for England. That was always what I’ve wanted to do as a kid growing up. That’s the pinnacle for me, so I’m delighted with the deal,” he said.

“I had some positive conversation with (ECB managing director of men’s cricket) Rob Key, to see if he wanted me to stay in the team or what he envisioned for me going forward with England.

“He said that I was part of the plans and I’m obviously delighted to have signed three years. It gives me security for me and my family.

“But I would definitely have had to consider (franchise offers), which is why I had lots of conversations with Keysy behind the scenes.

“As an injury-prone lad, if I ever have trouble, I’ll be well looked after by England physios.

“If you’re effectively self-employed, you go to these teams and say ‘Who wants me?’. But if I have a bad season or you get a bad injury, who then looks after you? So now I’m looked after by England and employed by England.”

England’s next match sees them take on Australia in Ahmedabad on Saturday, a renewal of hostilities between the old rivals after a tense Ashes summer.

Wood excelled for England in the series, helping inspire his side to a 2-2 draw after coming into the side 2-0 down.

Australia head into the match as favourites given England’s recent struggles and their own strong form, but Wood is still hoping to shift the balance.

“It’s completely different conditions, different players, different timing, different form (from the Ashes) but we’ve played against them for years,” he said.

“In one-day cricket, we’ve done well against them in recent times. I don’t think they’ll be going into this game pooing their pants, but it’s up to us to change that.”

Mark Wood has warned England not to rely on their injured “Messiah” Ben Stokes to ride to the rescue after a punishing start to their World Cup defence.

The 2019 champions were roundly thrashed by New Zealand in the tournament opener in Ahmedabad, going down by nine wickets as Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra shared an unbroken stand of 273.

Stokes, the hero of the Lord’s final four years ago and newly back in the ODI fold after reversing his retirement, missed out with a left hip problem and cut a frustrated figure as he watched on from the dugout.

Details of the Test captain’s fitness are sparse but he has struggled with a longstanding left knee problem in recent years and has already been ruled out as a bowling option in the World Cup to ease the load on his body.

England would love to welcome him back for Tuesday’s clash against Bangladesh in the Himalayan city of Dharamasala, but there is no guarantee he will be cleared for action.

Whether or not he makes it, Wood wants the rest of the squad to take their own responsibility for turning things around.

“It’s not all just about ‘the Messiah’ Stokesy coming back and him doing everything. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him,” said his Durham team-mate.

“He’s not Superman. He’s been through tough situations. Other people have to stand up as well. He’s obviously one of our best players, if not our best player, but all the lads have to stand up as well.”

Wood offered an uncertain update on Stokes’ current status, but England have already made it clear they will not gamble so early in their six-week stay.

“I don’t know (how he is), but he’s got strapping round his leg, which is helping,” said Wood.

“He’ll have to get in the nets and see if the strapping does its job and allows him to move how he wants. It’s not just about batting, it’s in the field too.

“Obviously we want Stokesy back – he’s a huge player. We’ll just have to assess with the medical team. It’s not up to me.”

Former captain Eoin Morgan, the man who masterminded England’s white-ball revolution and lifted the World Cup at Lord’s four years ago, emphasised the influential role Stokes still has to play – on and off the field.

“Ben Stokes’ return will be key. The difference he makes is invaluable and there is no measure on the impact he has in a changing room,” Morgan said.

“He believes he can achieve anything from any sort of circumstances and has backed that up in match-winning performances. He breeds confidence and belief. After a defeat like that, he will no doubt be speaking in that changing room.

“His words hold a lot of weight because they are backed up by performance. He will have had a great view of the whole game and hopefully he’ll be back on the field as soon as possible.”

Wood, meanwhile, has plenty to consider after he was put to the sword by Conway and Ravindra. Playing his first ODI since March he sent down five wicketless overs for 55 and was thrashed for seven fours and two pulled sixes.

He missed the recent home series against New Zealand due to a sore heel but he insisted the only pain he felt after Thursday’s game was psychological.

“I’m a bit battered mentally, from watching the ball going over my head a lot of times, but physically I feel OK,” he said.

“It’s fine to let it hurt but then we’ll refocus on the next game. We’ll move on pretty quickly. We want to keep this trophy, to prove people wrong. There’ll be question marks now but, as a group, we believe in each other.”

The World Cup gets under way on Thursday with the status of one-day internationals dwindling as Twenty20 continues to take precedence.

England have played fewer ODIs heading into this tournament than for any World Cup in almost 30 years and here, the PA news agency looks at the changing nature of the international calendar.

Has the ODI bubble burst?

The first two World Cups, in 1975 and 1979, were played with ODIs barely yet an established format – the first fixture took place on January 5, 1971 but only 53 were played all decade outside of those tournaments.

Post-1979, England’s 42 ODIs in the four-year cycle leading up to this World Cup marks their third-lowest total and their fewest since the 1996 tournament, when they had played only 38 in between World Cups. They played 40 leading up to 1983.

The picture is similar for the other leading ODI nations, with India’s 66 ODIs also their third-lowest in a World Cup cycle in that time and exceeding the four-year periods up to 1996 (63) and 1983 (27).

Australia’s 44 is their lowest excluding the 1970s tournaments, with 64 leading up to the 1983 World Cup and at least 75 on every other occasion since.

The four-year cycle was briefly broken by a switch to even-numbered years in the 1990s. There were five years between the tournaments in 1987 and 1992 and only three up to 1999, when the regular pattern was re-established.

Twenty20 vision

The decline of the 50-over game has been brought about by the rise of the shortest format and this cycle is the first time T20 internationals have made up the largest share of England’s fixtures.

With 68 games, excluding those abandoned without a ball bowled, T20 accounts for 40.8 per cent of England’s games since the 50-over World Cup final against New Zealand on July 14, 2019.

They have played 58 Tests in that time (34.3 per cent) and only 42 ODIs (24.9 per cent), the lowest share of England’s fixtures for the latter format since the years leading up to the 1975 World Cup when they played 50 Tests to 17 ODIs.

T20 was only introduced for the first time in 2005 and made up just 2.8 per cent of England’s games between the 2003 and 2007 World Cups. That had jumped to 20.4 per cent in the next cycle and has doubled in the years since.

Feeling the squeeze

With all three formats battling for their place in the calendar, something has to give.

Ben Stokes, the hero of England’s 2019 World Cup win, shockingly announced his retirement from the format last year with a warning that “there is too much cricket rammed in for people to play all three formats now”.

He has returned for this World Cup – but as a specialist batter, with knee problems inhibiting his bowling – but his prolonged absence hinted at a wider trend.

Eight of the 2019 World Cup-winning squad also appear in the group this time around – captain Jos Buttler, Stokes, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood.

They had played an average of 74.1 per cent of England’s games between the 2015 and 2019 tournaments, with Rashid at 94.3 per cent, but none have even reached that average mark in the years since.

Moeen’s 73.8 per cent is the leading figure, with the average down to 48.8. Wood has played just 19 per cent, below even Stokes’ 31 per cent.

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