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As the crisis around Yorkshire’s racism scandal begins to envelope the whole game in this country, not just in that county, England’s T20 World Cup campaign continues tomorrow with their final Super 12 match, against South Africa.
There are four Yorkshire players in England’s squad, and four more among the large party that set off for Australia ahead of the Ashes last night. The head coach, Chris Silverwood, is a former Yorkshire player, too. They will not be the only tourists thinking deeply about it all.
“Matters of an extreme or serious nature like these need to be met head-on,” said captain Eoin Morgan. “For us as a team, that’s exactly what we want to see.”
England’s qualification for next week’s semi-finals is effectively, if not mathematically, secured. South Africa, meanwhile, need a win on what shapes as Group 1’s Super Saturday.
Bangladesh’s extremely sorry and Sri Lanka’s highly promising campaigns finished yesterday, while the defending champions West Indies are out, ending the first great men’s T20i dynasty. The Windies can still influence qualification, however, when they meet Australia. South Africa and Australia both have three wins from four, but the Proteas – who play second, meaning they will know what they need to do – have an inferior net run-rate.
Since a race storm of their own – Quinton de Kock’s stance on taking the knee – South Africa have come together nicely. Their bowlers are well-equipped in these conditions, and if de Kock, their one world-class batter, hits his straps, they will prove a handful for England.
Throughout their four wins so far, England have been able to field a well-oiled, unchanged team. That now changes, with Tymal Mills ruled out of the tournament.
Mills was the last piece of this team’s jigsaw, recalled just before the World Cup. He was outstanding against West Indies and Bangladesh, had a tough night against Australia, then went down nine balls into his spell against Sri Lanka. As England’s joint-leading wicket-taker, he represents a “big loss”, according to Morgan.
Mills is difficult to replace. Capable of express pace and bowling at the death, he was able to sub in for the injured Jofra Archer. And as a left-armer, he was able to replace the variation of the injured Sam Curran, too.
Now he is injured, unless they reshuffle their team more broadly, England can only replace either his pace (with Mark Wood) or his left-arm angle (with David Willey). If Wood, who has had an ankle injury, proves his fitness at training today, he will be favourite to take Mills’ place.