ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook is a major doubt for the first warm-up match of the Ashes tour to Australia after being struck by a back problem.
Cook did not take part in full training yesterday as the tourists prepared for a three-day game against a Western Australia Chairman’s XI, which starts early tomorrow morning in Perth.
The Essex opener only took part in stretching exercises, having experienced pain following the long-haul flight Down Under, but is expected to make a full recovery by the first Test, which starts on 21 November.
“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” said batsman Ian Bell. “He’s had the odd little niggle with the back – I suppose we all have certain areas we have to keep working on. Obviously a long flight isn’t always easy. I’m sure he’ll be right in the next week or so.”
Fast-bowler Stuart Broad also sat out the training session with a minor complaint and could miss the first of three tour matches before England begin their defence of the urn.
Bell, meanwhile, has backed Broad’s lack of contrition over his refusal to walk during the first Ashes Test of the summer series – an episode that looks likely to earn him a fiery reception.
“Everyone has the right to do what they want to do. If they want to wait for the umpire to make the decision, you’re in your rights to do that,” he said. “I think we’ve all probably at certain times been guilty of nicking one and not walking. You get rough decisions sometimes and you get away with some. That’s the beauty of the game at times.”