Australia are hoping all-rounder Marcus Stoinis can be fit in time for the 2019 ICC World Cup semi-final against arch-rivals England which takes place at Edgbaston on Thursday.
The defending champions had earlier called up Mitchell Marsh as cover for the injured all-rounder but Stoinis could still play a part in Thursday’s clash if all goes well in Tuesday’s training.
Stoinis is currently grappling with two side strains with the latest of them coming in Australia’s recent loss to South Africa. The all-rounder had earlier picked up a side strain in the round-robin phase clash against England.
“He’s pretty tough, Stoin. He’s played with the left side (strain) through the tournament and he bowled seven overs against England in a row and got through it okay,” Australia bowling coach Adam Griffith was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“Scans show things, but it will be more around his ability to perform. We’ll have a good look at that tomorrow when he bowls – not only will it be on the pace and the GPS numbers but also his execution. We’ll be able to make a pretty good assessment from there.
“It’s pretty uncommon (to injure both sides), so I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes tomorrow. That’s the best indication we’ll have that he’s not just fit to play, but fit to perform.”
Stoinis’ team-mate Peter Handscomb is backing the all-rounder to recover in time for the semi-final.
“If there’s anyone that can pull through this, it’s the big fella,” said Handscomb.
“I think his mental strength to be able to shut off pain or outside noise and really just zone in on the moment is really impressive and I think that’s why he has gone so far and done so well with his cricket.
“Hopefully, for his sake, he can find a way through and play on Thursday.”
Earlier on Monday, batsman Usman Khawaja was ruled out of the tournament with a hamstring injury he picked up in the clash against South Africa. Australia are hoping to replace the left-hander with wicketkeeper batsman Matthew Wade who has been called up as cover.
Australia bared their hearts – and feet – as they began preparations for their World Cup semi-final against England with an extended huddle on the outfield at Edgbaston.
The squad began Monday’s training session by discarding their socks and trainers, taking a walk across the playing surface and then sat for more than half-an-hour in the same state as they took it in turns to talk to each other about their emotions ahead of the knockouts.
The move seems to come directly from the playbook of head coach Justin Langer, who last year described himself as “a bit of a hippy”, who liked to spend a month a year growing out his beard and walking barefoot.
Peter Handscomb has yet to play in the tournament, having joined up as a replacement for Shaun Marsh, but is in line to face England in place of another injury victim, Usman Khawaja.
Asked for his take on the walkabout and ‘bonding circle’, Handscomb said: “It’s just a moment to get a feel for the ground, literally.
“You do that lap and you can see all the different views from the ground and where you might be fielding and it gives you an opportunity to take it all in before it all starts on Thursday.
“(We had) an open and honest conversation and it was great that some of the guys poured their heart out there about what it meant to get to the semi-final.
“There were some really good stories: what it meant for them and their first memories of cricket growing up. It was really nice to see what playing in the finals means to this group.”
Handscomb’s chance to be part of that group would not have come around but for the misfortune of others but he still feels for those who have been laid low.
Marsh is the only player who has been formally ruled out so far but the paperwork has been lodged for Matthew Wade to take the hamstrung Khawaja’s slot, while Mitch Marsh is travelling as cover for Marcus Stoinis.
“It’s actually living the dream to be here now,” he said.
“It’s really sad for those guys who have gone down, especially so late in the tournament.
“For those two guys who have done so much to go down was pretty gut -wrenching but they’re very excited for us and that’s the camaraderie in this group.
“Both Mitch and I have played recently in the one-dayers so we’ve been in and amongst the boys, and Wadey has been in and out for years. We’re all ready to go.”
After weeks of clear weather, the infamous English weather is back to cause problems at the 2019 World Cup.
Just three games remain to decide the 50-over world champions and all eyes are on the weather. The first semi-final between India and New Zealand is in Manchester on Tuesday with a moderate threat of rain.
The Met Office’s forecast for Manchester on Tuesday is “mostly cloudy and overcast with light rain possible throughout the day”.
If that doesn’t fill you with confidence, the forecast for the second semi-final between England and Australia in Birmingham on Thursday certainly won’t. The forecast is for scattered thunderstorms and rain almost throughout Thursday.
However, there is a provision for reserve days for the knockout matches, which wasn’t there in the group stage.
But if somehow the matches get completely washed out, it means bad news for hosts England.
ICC rules state: “If after the scheduled day and reserve day the semi-final match has still not reached a result, the higher-placed team from the league stage will progress to the final.”
Also “if there is no play possible on either the originally schedule day of the final, nor the reserve day, the World Cup will be shared by the two finalist teams.”
In that case, India and Australia will make it to the semis as the Indians topped the group stage while the Aussies finished second.