England limp towards World Cup with Mark Wood a serious doubt

It wasn't so much the result that will concern England, as the fact they left the Ageas Bowl a little the way Napoleon and his men left Moscow.

True, there was less frostbite. But as the casualty list mounted, an image occurred of a triage station inside the England dressing room where exhausted nurses moved from patient to patient offering encouraging words and blankets; like most A&E departments on a Saturday night.

At the nadir against Australia, England were forced to press their assistant coach Paul Collingwood into service. Collingwood only ended his playing career last September but celebrates - perhaps 'marks' would be a better word - his 43rd birthday on Sunday and had surgery on one of his eyes earlier in the week. It was hard to avoid the conclusion that England might have been wise to ensure they had more resources ahead of the game.

They are not allowed such luxuries once the World Cup starts; playing regulations stipulate that any substitute fielder must come from within the 15-man squad. But more leniency is allowed in these (luke)warm-up games so perhaps it would have made sense to protect their assets a little more? It would surely be remiss not to ensure they have greater back-up ahead of Monday's game at The Oval.

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At one stage, it appeared as if England might have lost both their fast bowlers within a few minutes of one another. With Mark Wood leaving the pitch reporting pain in his left foot, Jofra Archer - who had originally been rested - was brought on as a substitute fielder. Two balls later, he slipped as he pulled up a ball near the midwicket boundary and also left the field for assessment. Within an hour or so, Liam Dawson was forced off with a cut finger.

By then, Joe Root was on the pitch. He had been hoping for an afternoon off following the death of a grandparent on Thursday, but England had no other options. Adil Rashid was absent with a long-standing shoulder injury, while Eoin Morgan is nursing a finger injury. Chris Woakes, meanwhile, was playing as a specialist batsman as the England camp look to protect his troublesome knee. The match ended with Rashid and Archer, who weren't supposed to be playing, batting together in the absence of Wood and Dawson.

It wasn't so much that it all felt a bit chaotic. It was more it felt as if England weren't so much arriving at the World Cup fit and thriving as limping and lame.

In truth, it is probably only the injury to Wood that can be considered serious. Dawson may require a stitch or two, Morgan may need to avoid another blow to the hand and both Rashid and Woakes may need some management to get through the tournament. But all of them should be available for that first game against South Africa on Thursday.

Only Wood is different. That left ankle and foot have dogged him throughout his career in much the same way that Simon Jones was tortured by knee and ankle trouble. At moments, notably in the Caribbean, he has looked a wonderful fast bowler. But he has played just one full game since and the there is clearly some trepidation in the England camp over what the scan on his foot may reveal.

The results are expected on Sunday and, suffice to say, the mood music is not especially encouraging. His withdrawal would be a major blow to England and a sickening personal disappointment.

Without Root or Morgan, England's batting looked overly reliant upon Jos Buttler. While he was at the crease, victory looked probable but this was not the perfect batting strip to which England have become accustomed. Their batsmen could not simply hit through the line of the ball and the Australia bowlers received a bit more value for their excellent variations and spin. On such surfaces - and as tournaments wear on, this may become more relevant - England are not quite as daunting. It was on used or dry pitches that their Champions Trophy campaigns came to a halt in 2013 and 2017.

Perhaps it also suggested that Australia's somewhat old-fashioned approach to ODI batting - set a foundation, keep wickets in hand and go hard in the final 10 overs - is not quite so anachronistic as is sometimes suggested. Here they took 98 off the final 10 overs of their innings, which probably proved the difference between the sides. Even without Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, Australia also had a bowling attack that adapted well to the conditions.

To be fair, though, they played 12 men; it pays not to take the results in these games too seriously.

Had this been an actual World Cup game, it would have been something of a thriller. Right up until Marcus Stoinis conceded just three off the 48th over of the innings the result was in doubt. And with a crowd of close to 12,000 enjoying a perfect summer's day, it was a match that whetted the appetite nicely for the feast ahead.