The shadows of James Anderson and Stuart Broad loomed large over the third morning of England’s Test warmup for the West Indies series after Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson were temporarily withdrawn from the match because of fitness concerns.
With only five days to go before the series opener, the tourists were forced to continue their only practice game in Antigua without two members of the first-choice XI. Having controversially omitted Anderson and Broad, the two leading wicket-takers in England’s Test history, injury worries in the bowling ranks were the last thing the tourists will have wanted.
Wood, the standout quick during a dismal Ashes campaign, has yet to play any part against a CWI President’s XI and did not travel to the ground on day three having felt unwell over the past 48 hours. Even if he does rally to play some part, he will do so with a vastly reduced workload under his belt.
And Robinson, whose conditioning was publicly called into question during the trip to Australia, left the field with a lower back problem midway through his first spell. He had taken the only wicket of the session when he had Devon Thomas lbw with one that nipped back on a docile pitch.
The uncapped seamers Saqib Mahmood and Matt Fisher, who had not been due to feature in the match, were both called into action instead, gaining an unexpected chance to prove their credentials in soporific conditions.
Both acquitted themselves steadily without being able to part Keacy Carty (44 noto out) and Raymon Reifer, who made an unbeaten 42. Responding to England’s 466 for six declared, an innings that featured four half-centuries and a Jonny Bairstow hundred, the home side reached 133 for three at lunch.
With precious little in it for the bowlers, Robinson did well to jag one back into Thomas’s pads early on but things were about to take a turn for the worse for the Sussex bowler. After sending down the third ball of his fourth over he walked gingerly from the pitch seeking treatment.
It was later confirmed that he had a sore back, recalling the back spasm he suffered during the fifth Ashes Test, and was being monitored. Chris Woakes, the senior seamer on tour, went to the break wicketless from 14 overs.