Shahzad and Tremlett to fly home
Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Tremlett are due to fly back to the UK on Thursday afternoon, instead of undertaking the four-hour flight to Perth ahead of the seventh and final ODI against Australia, as England take stock of their injury situation in the lead-up to the forthcoming World Cup. Liam Plunkett, the Durham pace bowler, has been called up as a replacement and is already in Perth ahead of Sunday's match, having flown in from the Lions tour of West Indies.
The visitors were left with the bare bones of a pace attack after Tremlett was ruled out of Sunday's fifth one-day international in Brisbane with a side strain, then Shazhad limped off after eight overs of the same game with a hamstring injury. Both players underwent scans on Tuesday with Shahzad the more serious concern as he is part of England's World Cup squad.
The ECB confirmed that Shahzad's injury is a minor hamstring tear, and though Tremlett's scan showed no significant damage, it was decided that the best scenario for both players was to get back to England as soon as possible for one continuous period of rehab, rather than undertake four days in Perth before a long-haul flight back to England.
Even before the latest brace of injuries England had been badly hit during the one-day series with Tim Bresnan (calf) and Graeme Swann (back) flying home, while Stuart Broad remains on the sidelines as he recovers from his abdominal injury. It means there are concerns over more than half England's first-choice World Cup attack, although the news on Broad appears more positive with the allrounder making good progress ahead of the team's arrival in Bangladesh on February 13.
Even so, with the ICC confirming that non-squad members will not be permitted to take part in the World Cup warm-up matches against Canada and Pakistan in Dhaka on February 16 and 18, Shahzad's place on the bench could come under scrutiny if he is unable to prove his fitness in the coming fortnight. Chris Woakes, who has impressed since his debut in the Australia Twenty20 series, is the likeliest replacement in the 15-man party.
Plunkett, meanwhile, played the most recent of his 28 one-day internationals last year against Bangladesh, at Chittagong, and has undergone an arduous trip around the world for a match he may not play before returning to the Caribbean where the Lions are taking part in the local first-class tournament. Plunkett, 25, has taken has taken 37 ODI wickets at 34.37 and was part of England's 2007 World Cup squad.
"Liam Plunkett has been part of the England performance programme and England Lions squad this winter so we are confident that he will be ready to play a role for England should the need arise," Andy Flower, the England team director, said.
"With our preparations for the World Cup starting in less than a fortnight we need to prioritise getting our World Cup squad members fit and ready for the start of the tournament."