Eoin Morgan, England's star one-day batsman, has been ruled out of the World Cup due to a broken middle finger on his left hand, and Ravi Bopara has been brought into the squad in his place. England's coach Andy Flower announced the news at a press conference at Heathrow Airport on England's return from Australia, and confirmed that Morgan would undergo surgery that would keep him out of the entire tournament.
"His [Morgan's] finger needs to be operated on, so that's a serious loss to us," Flower said. "He's been a very influential limited-overs performer for us since he joined the England team. Ravi Bopara, who is a very exciting young cricketer in his own right, is going to be joining us and is flying back from the West Indies where he is playing with the England Lions. He'll be arriving in the country tomorrow and joining us on the flight to Dhaka."
The news of Morgan's unavailability comes as a serious blow to England as he has been one of their most valuable players in ODIs over the past two years, something his captain Andrew Strauss recognised. "For the last 12 to 18 months, he's been the stand-out batsman for us in one-day cricket," Strauss told the press at Heathrow. "We all see the World Cup as a forum for showcasing your skills, so he's bitterly disappointed to be missing out. But that's the nature of the beast: you are going to get injuries. Unfortunately, his has come along at a bad time, but thankfully he's a young bloke and is going to get opportunities in the future. For the time being we will have to make do without him, but it's something we are prepared for and I'm sure we'll be able to do."
Flower tried putting a positive spin on events, mentioning how Bopara's bowling might be an asset. "No-one is irreplaceable and Ravi is a very talented and exciting player, and brings a bit of medium-pace bowling to help the captain in those middle overs," Flower said. "We are confident that the 15 guys who we have will gel together and perform powerfully."
Bopara was not a part of the England ODI squad for the series in Australia, and played only four ODIs in 2010, with a best of 45 not out from 16 balls against Bangladesh at Edgbaston. He did score two half-centuries in India the last time England toured the country in 2008, and has played in subcontinent conditions during the IPL, in which he played for Kings XI Punjab.
"[Bopara] hasn't had a chance to play for us recently; he has been playing a lot of cricket around the world and he is desperate to get back in the ranks," said Strauss. "This is his opportunity and we like what he can bring to the game, his ability to clear the ropes in the middle overs is going to be important to us, and he is going to be a worthy addition to the squad."
Morgan sustained the fracture to the middle finger of his left hand during the fourth ODI in Adelaide, but carried on playing for a further two matches in the mistaken belief that it was merely bruised. "He didn't think it was serious at all, but it got worse the more he played and practised," said Flower. "The pain grew worse, and therefore the medical team got onto it and found that it was worse than the bruise originally suggested."
He met with a specialist on Monday, immediately after his arrival back in the UK, and it is understood that the fracture extends up to the knuckle, a problem which increases the risk of dislocation. Morgan was told that surgery was the only viable option, which would keep him on the sidelines for at least six weeks.
England are currently sweating on the fitness of five more members of their 15-man World Cup squad. Paul Collingwood received an injection on Monday, having suffered a back spasm during the penultimate ODI in Sydney. Tim Bresnan is stepping up his training having succumbed to a calf strain, while Ajmal Shahzad's hamstring injury is still causing concern.
Stuart Broad is believed to be on track having torn a stomach muscle back in December, while Graeme Swann is set to test his injured knee in the nets on Tuesday, having missed the latter stages of the Australia tour. "I'm not fully fit but I'm getting there," he told BBC Radio 5 live. "I haven't had a bowl yet. I'm a little bit nervous about it but I should be fine."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo