Cricket World Cup: England arrive in India to begin final preparations with full squad available

Buttler’s side will soon begin their World Cup defence  (Getty Images)
Buttler’s side will soon begin their World Cup defence (Getty Images)

England will touch down in India on Thursday to begin final preparations for their Cricket World Cup defence, which starts in just a week’s time.

Jos Buttler’s side flew out of Heathrow late on Wednesday and have a swift turnaround ahead of a warm-up meeting with the host nation in Guwahati on Saturday. They also play Bangladesh at the same venue in a second practice game on Monday before travelling to Ahmedabad, where New Zealand lie in wait for the tournament curtain-raiser next Thursday, a repeat of the 2019 final at Lord’s.

England’s first string have had the best part of a two-week break since wrapping up a 3-1 ODI series victory over the Black Caps earlier this month, with a ‘B’-side beating Ireland 1-0 in a heavily rain affected series in the interim.

The gap has given the likes of Adil Rashid and Mark Wood more time to recover from calf and heel problems, respectively, and barring any issues between now and then, Buttler and Matthew Mott look likely to have a full 15-man squad to select from for their opener.

“We’re close, but it’s still a while away,” Mott said earlier this week when asked whether England have settled on an XI for that game. “We don’t know how guys will pull up, there’s a quick turnaround when we land in India. We’ve got a rough idea and then it’s about opposition, whether we go batter-heavy or bowler-heavy. The squad we have gives us great flexibility.”

Jofra Archer is the only reserve to have travelled with the squad, with England hoping the quick’s ongoing recovery from an elbow stress fracture goes well enough to make him available for the latter part of the tournament should another bowler go down injured.

Elsewhere, Mott has told all of those players involved in the Ireland series, including the likes of Will Jacks, Phil Salt, Ben Duckett and Rehan Ahmed, to stay sharp at home in case needed, but confirmed that Jason Roy also remains available as a reserve opener should either Dawid Malan or Jonny Bairstow suffer an injury.

Roy was named in a provisional squad for the tournament last month, but after missing the entire New Zealand series with back spasms was squeezed out of the final group to make way for Harry Brook.

The Surrey batter turned down the chance to prove his form and fitness against Ireland, leading to suggestions his international career could be over, but Mott says he remains ready to answer any emergency call.

“He is strongly keen to get on that plane,” Mott said. “He is incredibly disappointed, as you would expect. He is very determined if an opportunity opens up again that he is on that plane.”