England in West Indies 1980-90

Ellcock to miss England practice games

Ricardo Ellcock; broken down after four days © Getty Images
Ricardo Ellcock, the England pace bowler, has been ruled out of today's first warm-up match of the West Indian tour. The 24-year-old Middlesex player managed only half a dozen deliveries during net practice yesterday before disappearing for treatment on his suspect back.

"He is very stiff," said the tour manager, Peter Lush, yesterday. "He will definitely miss tomorrow's game and we would be very unlikely to risk him in Tuesday 's second practice match." The vice-captain, Allan Lamb, who has a strained calf muscle, is also expected to miss both matches.

Ellcock, who has had a stop-start career with Worcestershire and Middlesex, missed the start of last season because of back trouble and has been wearing a protective corset while bowling. He suffers from the same lower-spine weakness which forced Ian Botham to undergo major surgery in 1988.

The England selectors were aware of Ellock's condition when they named him in the 16- strong squad for the West Indian tour, and the team manager, Micky Stewart, admitted yesterday that they were taking a calculated risk. "We have got to accept that Ricky is going to have times when he won't be able to perform, won't be able to play and won't be able to practise. We always knew that was the case. He may not have an adverse reaction for 10 years or something may happen tomorrow and he won't be able to play for six months. It's one of those things."

But for Ellcock to break down within four days of arriving in the West Indies is worrying for England. But even without the Barbados-born player, the captain, Graham Gooch, and his fellow batsmen were given a thorough examination at Bridgetown's Kensington Oval yesterday by Devon Malcolm, Gladstone Small, Phillip DeFreitas and Angus Fraser.

Today, the tourists, helped by local players, will form two teams for a practice game, but tomorrow's match, also at Kensington Oval, should be more serious, with England taking on a virtual Barbados second XI.