Denly to miss first ODI after 'football' injury

Joe Denly is to miss the first ODI against Australia at the Oval on Friday after sustaining a left knee injury during practice on Thursday.

updated: September 04, 2009 10:39 IST
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England opener Joe Denly is to miss the first one-day international (ODI) against Australia at the Oval here on Friday after sustaining a left knee injury during practice on Thursday.

Denly suffered the injury after a collision with Owais Shah while taking part playing football, a regular part of the team's warm-up routine, at the Oval and had to be helped off the field.

He later went for a scan but this proved inconclusive and an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statement said Denly would be having further medical attention on Friday.

"Scans to Joe Denly's left knee will be reviewed overnight," it said. "He will see a specialist tomorrow (Friday)."

The 23-year-old Kent opener top-scored with 67 on his ODI debut in the three-run win over Ireland in Belfast last Thursday.

"It is very frustrating," said England captain Andrew Strauss before Denly was ruled out.

"Up until now we haven't had an instance of anyone missing any cricket through a football related injury."

Denly's likely absence leaves an opening berth to fill, with Strauss now set to partner Ravi Bopara at the top of the order.

"We have a couple of options at the top of the order, Ravi and me for one," Strauss said.

Denly's injury came just two days after the second Twenty20 international at Old Trafford was abandoned without a ball being bowled because a small area of wet grass in the bowlers' run-up at one end was ruled unfit for play.

Yet England were prepared to risk one of their side getting injured playing something other than cricket.

But Strauss, who insisted England had a "no-tackling" rule in place, said: "The reason we play football is that we warm up 200 days a year, the players enjoy it and it's a good way to get people going at a time in the morning when a lot of the time you're stiff and sore and tired."

But this is not the first time an England cricketer has suffered a football-related injury this season.

Ian Bell sustained an ankle knock in the build-up to the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston and Matt Prior had a back spasm shortly before play in the fourth Test at Headingley.

"Standing here today with Joe Denly getting injured, it's very frustrating, and something we've got to look at. Maybe we need to learn the lessons from that," Strauss said.

Australia captain Michael Clarke sympathised, saying team trainers were "between a rock and a hard place" when it came to striking the balance between enjoyment and preventing injury in warm-ups.

However, he added: "It's cricket first and foremost for us. We have the occasional game of touch (rugby) football but when you get close to a game you need to get your priorities in order."

In an interview for the programme for the two Twenty20s at Old Trafford, which were both washed out, Denly said he had given up football, having been on English third tier club Charlton's books as a junior after being spotted playing soccer in a cricket warm-up, to concentrate on cricket.

"I was a decent footballer but I didn't really start growing until well after my 17th birthday and I used to get shoved around a bit on the field," Denly said.

He added: "I got pushed off the ball one day when playing for Whitstable Under-18s and broke my arm, so I decided enough was enough on that front and since then have concentrated on my cricket."

England have already lost Andrew Flintoff from their one-day squad after the all-rounder withdrew to have surgery on a longtstanding knee injury.

Friday's fixture is the first of a seven-match series. It follows the abandoned Twenty20s and England's 2-1 Ashes Test series victory.