England head coach Trevor Bayliss is optimistic over Jos Buttler’s fitness ahead of Friday’s World Cup clash with the West Indies.
Buttler hurt his right hip while batting in England’s previous match against Bangladesh, hobbling for the remainder of his knock and passing on wicketkeeping duties to Jonny Bairstow for the second innings.
He was scheduled to join his team-mates during a net session at the Hampshire 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. Test gloveman Bairstow stands by to continue and would slot in with minimal disruption.
“I haven’t really thought about it. We’ll make that decision in the next day or so,” said the Australian.
“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 in the competition thus far, with scores of 18, 103 and 64 all coming at punishing strike rates. If England are to succeed in their aim of winning the trophy at Lord’s, he will surely have a major role to play, meaning how they protect any fitness niggles represents a balancing act for the selectors.
Should he respond badly to his outing in the nets, or if England merely decide to err on the side of caution with one of their star assets, 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 XI after sitting out the 106-run victory over the Tigers 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.
Moeen was excused from training on Wednesday after the birth of his new baby daughter Haadiya.
He will rejoin the squad for final preparations on the eve of the game and is available to take on the Windies.
Friday’s game will mark a first outing for Barbados-born Jofra Archer against a West Indies side containing several of his Caribbean friends and peers.
The 24-year-old suggested at the weekend he would be treating the game like any other, but Bayliss believes it would only be normal if the stakes were slightly elevated.
Archer was offered a chance to make it in county cricket after being overlooked for the Windies’ Under-19 World Cup squad in 2015 and a late bid to bring him back into the fold failed after England’s interest became clear.
“He’s looking forward to it, obviously knows a few guys in their team,” said Bayliss.
“It’s always bragging rights: both sides of the argument would like to gain the upper hand in that argument. Let’s wait and see.
“It will be the first time he has come up against those guys, but I am sure he is wishing to do well. I am not sure he could be any more confident – he is a confident young man who has fitted into the group very well.
“He is a typical young fast bowler: he wants to bowl fast, he wants to take wickets and that has to be a good thing for England.”