JOHANNESBURG – England’s squad has been hit by a debilitating flu bug that has laid low a few members of their bowling attack including up-and-coming superstar Jofra Archer.
It led to the England and Wales Cricket Board requesting that their three-day match against a South Africa A side be downgraded from a first-class encounter to a plain old tour game. Besides Archer, the bug has also left Stuart Broad and left-arm spinner Jack Leach ill, while a few other players and some members of the backroom staff started feeling unwell yesterday.
How much of an impact it will have on England’s overall preparation for next week’s first Test remains to be seen, but their management was hoping to see signs of improvement in the next two to three days.
It does rob the three-day match at Willowmoore Park of its competitive edge. The SA A side, coached by Ashwell Prince, contains three members of the Proteas Test squad; Temba Bavuma, Pieter Malan and Andile Phelukwayo.
The 37-year-old James Anderson, who has played 149 Tests, last bowled in a competitive match in the opening Test of the Ashes series earlier this year. He was not picked for England’s tour of New Zealand, instead spending time improving his fitness at training camps in Potchefstroom and Cape Town in the last two weeks.