England's preparations for the Test series against India were hit a further blow today when it was announced that Marcus Trescothick would be flying home for 'personal' reasons. This news, compounded by England's eight-wicket loss to the Indian Board President's XI in Vadodara today, will further increase the gloom of an injury-hit side.
"Marcus has to go back for personal reasons," Duncan Fletcher, England's coach, told reporters. "It's a blow, yes, but it will force the others to step up. We will be monitoring the situation closely, so all we can ask is that you respect his decision." He added it was "too early to say" if Trescothick would be back in time for the first Test starting at Nagpur on Wednesday.
"Its definitely not an ideal start to have had going into the Test matches," Michael Vaughan, the England captain added. "He's such a good player, and he was probably our best batsman on occasion, so it's a big blow."
Vaughan (knee), Paul Collingwood (back) and Simon Jones (virus) were ruled out of the Vadodara match. Kevin Pietersen joined the casualty list after retiring hurt with back spasms, and Liam Plunkett was also unable to bowl on the second day after picking up a bruised heel. Earlier today it was confirmed that Alastair Cook and James Anderson, on England A duty in the West Indies, were flying in to India tomorrow as cover.
On England's performance in their second tour match, Vaughan was insistent that they would be working hard on smoothening out the rough edges. "We haven't played to our potential and it wasn't a great game for us obviously. But full credit to the Indians, they played a good game of cricket," he said. "We've been in this position before, down a game or two, but we've bounced back and gone on to win Test series as well. But yes, the position we're in now is something that we're going to have to address over the next few days. We're just going to have to learn from the few mistakes we made in this game here, go to Nagpur and practice well on Monday and Tuesday."
On his own injury, Vaughan was unable to determine a final position. "Knee's not bad. I had an injection on Wednesday night and a couple sessions in the nets, so it's looking better," he said. "We have to see how it goes on Monday, and then we'll make a decision on Tuesday for sure. Pietersen's improving too, and he should be good."
"We approached this as a proper match, we needed the preparation and we wanted to win," Fletcher said while summing up his side's performance. "The Indian seamers bowled well and used the conditions well. They swung the ball, which is something that we will have to pick up on in the series.
With Trescothick gone, and Vaughan's condition still uncertain, England may actually end up with a new captain for Nagpur. The likeliest candidates would appear to be Andrew Strauss and Andrew Flintoff, neither of whom has been on top form with the bat so far on this trip. England are creaking at the seams with less than a week to go until the series begins.