England will have no qualms about tinkering with their World Cup blueprint if injury rules Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy out of facing Afghanistan.
The duo have been in rest and recovery mode ever since limping out of the eight-wicket win over the West Indies in Southampton, captain Morgan battling a painful back spasm and opening batsman Roy managing a tweaked hamstring.
The pair have been crucial to England’s explosive batting exploits in recent years and would create a major hole in the top four should they be ruled out of Tuesday’s game at Old Trafford.
Even so, they were not missed in the second half of the game against the Windies with Joe Root reeling off an unbeaten century after stepping into Roy’s shoes at opener and all-rounder Chris Woakes making an assured 40 at number three.
The latter’s emergency promotion was a statement of strength from England, not least because he had never before batted higher than seven, and with Hampshire’s James Vince and Moeen Ali both waiting in the wings there is no shortage of options.
“If they (Morgan and Roy) are not quite ready we have to be flexible,” said Woakes.
“In a World Cup things aren’t always going to go to plan, so we have to be ready. There’s always going to be other players who have to play at some point.
“When it’s a series you can call people in at your will and play them when you want but within a World Cup it’s always going to be a squad effort.”
Regardless of Woakes’ comfortable showing with the bat at the Hampshire Bowl, and a couple of drives and pulls suggested he was hardly out of place, any reshuffling of the XI is unlikely to see the 30-year-old remain in position.
He revealed a quiet word from head coach Trevor Bayliss confirmed his temporary elevation, an unexpected honour but one he was happy to embrace.
“I didn’t wake up in the morning expecting to bat at number three, so I’m just pleased it went well and we picked up the points,” he said.
“I was delighted to get the opportunity to bat three, I don’t think I ever have before. Coming off at half-time I got the tap on the shoulder from TB.
“There was the odd whisper of me opening the batting but that didn’t last long. The plan was to keep the middle order settled and not to move too many people around. Thankfully we were only chasing 213, if it was 300 we might have been a bit more nervous. Thankfully I did a good job for the team.”
Vince is on standby to open the batting if Roy needs more time, while England could recall all-rounder Moeen Ali should Morgan be ruled out.
That would require another reshuffle of the order, placing an increased importance on the in-form Root.
With scores of 51, 107 and 100no in the first four matches he is perfectly primed to shoulder the burden.
“Rooty batted beautifully throughout against the West Indies,” said Woakes, after sharing a century stand with the Test captain.
“He’s always calm. I’ve batted a few times with him in Test matches and he’s a world-class player so to watch him operate from the other end is great.
“It was probably one of his quicker hundreds and to do it they way he did was fantastic. To be at the other end with a box office seat was nice.”