England’s preparations for the first Test of their series against South Africa were further thrown into disarray after Chris Woakes became the latest player to be struck by illness.
Woakes, forced to miss training on Christmas Eve, is the fourth member of England’s bowling attack to go down with illness already this tour after Stuart Broad, Jack Leach and Jofra Archer all missed both of England’s warm-up fixtures. While all three have returned to training, Joe Root said yesterday that he’d have to trust the trio’s personal assessments as to whether they felt ready for Test cricket so soon after falling ill.
Earlier today, news emerged that Ben Stokes’ father, Ged, was rushed to hospital with a “serious illness”. Stokes missed England’s training session to be at his bedside and is also a doubt for the first Test in Centurion.
With Mark Wood ruled out until at least the third Test of the series and with 37-year-old James Anderson only having bowled four overs in Test cricket since mid-February, England are looking precariously light in the bowling department despite having 19 players out on tour after Dom Bess and Craig Overton were added to the squad as cover. Two days out from the Test, Anderson, Overton and Sam Curran are the only pace bowlers who are definitely available for selection for the game.