Joe Root is set to be fit to play in the opening game of England’s ODI series against Australia on Sunday, captain Eoin Morgan has confirmed.
The Test skipper was forced to retire ill on day five of the final Ashes Test in Sydney due to a bad case of gastroenteritis that had seen him hospitalised prior to the start of play.
However, after sitting out England’s warm-up match victory over a Cricket Australia XI on Thursday, Root appears to have overcome the bug and is ready to return for the day-nighter in Melbourne.
“Joe is good and should be fit to play tomorrow,” Morgan told reporters.
“He is extremely important. He has been a fantastic leader within the group and, on top of that, there’s the weight of runs he has scored and the manner that he’s scored them.
“He is obviously a key part. He is a very versatile player and can score in any strike-rate that needs to be required, given the situation. He is very important.”
Root will slot back in at No 3 leaving England to choose two from Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy and the returning Alex Hales to open the batting at the MCG in the first game of the five-match series.
While Root’s participation is all but assured, Australia captain Steve Smith stopped short of confirming that David Warner’s involvement after the opener’s struggles with a stomach bug over the past two days.
“I think he’s okay, but he was having a bit of a gastro issue,” Smith said. “He turned up and walked the oval a few times, but he said he’ll be fine so I don’t think there’ll be any trouble.”
Smith himself is aiming to take his remarkable Test form into the 50-over format but acknowledged that Australia will have to be at their best against a strong England ODI team.
Asked if England’s white-ball bowlers, such as Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid might fare better than their Test counterparts, Smith replied: “I hope not. I’ve played a lot against those guys in the Champions Trophy, in series in England and here too.
“But it’s a different line-up and each of the guys in their team have a different set of skills. They’re good one-day bowlers and a good one-day outfit so it’s a good challenge.
“I think we’ll see some very entertaining cricket and there’s some good talent on show.”
Australia will be without Josh Hazlewood, who has been rested for the game in Melbourne, with AJ Tye, Jhye Richardson and Adam Zampa competing to replace him while Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Marsh and Cameron White are battling it out for two middle-order slots.