SOUTHAMPTON: England head coach Trevor Bayliss is optimistic that Jos Buttler will be fit to play in Friday’s World Cup match with the West Indies in Southampton.
Buttler hurt his right hip while batting in England’s win against Bangladesh, hobbling for the remainder of his knock and passing on wicket-keeping duties to Jonny Bairstow for the West Indies innings.
He was scheduled to join his team-mates during a net session at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday and Bayliss said: “Yes, he’s fine. He’ll be taking part in today’s practice fully. It was a little bit precautionary the other day. He said he could have kept, but he wasn’t really sure if he would be able to run after a high catch.”
Asked if Buttler might play as a specialist batsman to lighten his workload in the field, Bayliss kept his options open.
“I haven’t really thought about it. We’ll make that decision in the next day or so,” the Australian said. “We’ll see how he pulls up and how he performs at practice. I’m expecting him to play a full part.”
Buttler has been in fine form at the World Cup, with scores of 18, 103 and 64 all coming at punishing strike rates.
Should Buttler fail to prove his fitness, Hampshire’s James Vince would be the likeliest pick in his role as spare batsman.
All-rounder Moeen Ali is also eyeing a return to the team after sitting out the 106-run victory over the Bangladesh in Cardiff.
His off-breaks were deemed surplus to requirements in a seam-heavy attack at Sophia Gardens, but he could come back into consideration in Southampton.-
England fast bowler Mark Wood, meanwhile, said his side will ‘fight fire with fire’ when they face the formidable West Indies pace attack.
Friday’s clash is likely to be a bouncer barrage, with both teams boasting aggressive bowling line-ups.
The West Indies dismissed Pakistan for 105 at Trent Bridge, the lowest total of the tournament, by unleashing an array of bouncers from Oshane Thomas, Andre Russell and Sheldon Cottrell.
With Wood partnered by Barbados-born paceman Jofra Archer, and both having hit 95mph in the victory over Bangladesh, England are not likely to shrink from the battle.
“The West Indies in this World Cup have come with a clear game plan and that is a lot of short stuff,” Wood said. “We got a taste of that in the Windies on the recent tour. But I can remember getting Darren Bravo and Hetmyer out to short balls so it is a good thing we can fight fire with fire.
“It could be like that, just landing blow after blow, back and forth, back and forth. The opposition batsmen don’t get a break if there is pace from both ends and it’d be nice if we can continue that trend.
“When real pace bowling is on show it definitely ruffles a few feathers and changes the momentum of the game.”
Speaking at the weekend Archer nominated himself as the quickest bowler in the England ranks and expressed surprise when told Wood had crept ahead of him with a delivery of 95.6mph — the fastest ball of the tournament.
That head-to-head will continue throughout the competition, with the Durham man not minded to back down.
“It is a good competition between us, a friendly one,” he said. “To have us both bowling at 94 and 95mph and have two guys from the England team at the top of that list is pretty good.
“It pushes us for sure. You’re pushing each other to be the best you can be and to be as quick as you can be. You have banter about it for sure, but you’re helping each other.
“I’m trying to bowl 0.1 mph quicker than Jofra and he’s trying to bowl 0.1 faster than me.”