Captain says other squad members ‘absolutely’ set to play in remaining two matches
Morgan split the webbing between his right thumb and index finger while fielding and needed four stitches before heading out to bat in England’s 66-run defeat on Tuesday. He made 22 as England were bowled out for 251 in pursuit of India’s 317 for 5. Billings was also able to bat – he contributed 18 – after spraining his collar bone as he dived in vain to stop a boundary.
While Billings’ injury was unrelated to the dislocated left shoulder that required surgery and ruined his hopes of playing in England’s triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign, Morgan said the pair faced a 48-hour wait before a decision is made on their fitness for the next game, a must-win for England if they are to keep the three-match series alive.
“We’re going to wait a while, and then give them as much time as needed to hopefully be available for Friday,” Morgan said. “I think two different instances, obviously when you have a split webbing fielding is a concern, and with Sam obviously landing while he’s fielding, being able to play the shots that he does.”
Morgan was yet to ask Billings whether he had felt the injury while batting but he admitted to feeling some discomfort himself during England’s run-chase.
“I haven’t spoken with Sam about his batting so I don’t know in his instance,” Morgan added. “In mine, It’s never going to be at 100%, but it’s not that I can’t hold a bat.”
But Morgan said he expected to make some changes to the team ahead of the next match, also in Pune. That means Liam Livingstone, who took a strong catch running in from deep cover to dismiss Shreyas Iyer off the bowling of Mark Wood while on as a substitute fielder on Tuesday, is in line to make his ODI debut. He played two T20Is, when England hosted South Africa in 2017.
Similarly Matt Parkinson could add to his two ODI caps earned on the tour of South Africa more than a year ago, having travelled with England since their Asian tour began in Sri Lanka in early January, and Reece Topley could make his first international appearance since the ODI series against Ireland last August.
“Absolutely, we’re going to try and give the majority of the players within the squad an opportunity to play 50-over cricket for us, as it has been the vehicle to grow our squad,” Morgan said. “We will try and move beyond our best 11 players on the field so there will be opportunities for guys coming in.”
The sight of Billings sitting on the outfield, holding his left arm in an awkward position as team medical staff attended to him, brought back memories of his shoulder dislocation during a Royal London Cup fixture for Kent in April 2019, his first appearance of that year’s county season after a stint at the IPL. His re-emergence with the bat brought some relief for England and, possibly, Delhi Capitals, with whom he will link up for the next edition of the IPL straight after this series.
The same could not be said for Billings’ Delhi Capitals team-mate and captain, Iyer, who was taken for scans after subluxating – partially dislocating – his left shoulder while fielding. Iyer was ruled out of the rest of the match, as was Rohit Sharma after he had been struck on the elbow while battng, although Sharma didn’t require a scan.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo