JOE ROOT was the ultimate fill-in performer with ball and bat as England completed a crushing victory over West Indies.
First, Root filled-in with his occasional off-spin because Moeen Ali wasn’t playing and took two crucial wickets.
And then, even more impressively, he filled-in as a makeshift opener because of injury to Jason Roy and became the first man to score two centuries in this World Cup.
Roy left the field while England were bowling with a recurrence of the left hamstring problem he suffered earlier this summer.
And then captain Morgan departed the action slowly and painfully following a back spasm.
Neither was able to bat and the post-match bulletin was not encouraging.
Morgan, unable to sit down at the media conference because his back was causing such discomfort, admitted: “When any two players go down, it is a bit of a worry. But we’ve not reached panic stations yet, we’ll see how things go in the next 48 hours.
“I’ve had a back spasm before and it normally takes a few days to settle down. Jason has tweaked his hamstring and has gone for a scan. It will probably be a day or two before we know the results.
“I thought Joe Root was superb. He is the glue that hold our batting together and is getting better and better.”
England’s injury concerns were so extreme that, as well as Root opening the innings, the unlikely figure of Chris Woakes emerged at No.3.
The Hampshire Bowl has not been a happy ground for Morgan during the tournament. He sustained what was described as a flake fracture of his left index finger the day before England’s warm-up match against Australia.
Root finished exactly 100 not out as England won by eight wickets with 101 balls to spare.
He reached three figures from 93 balls without appearing ever to get out of second gear. It was his 16th one-day international century and he became the first England batsman in history to score three World Cup hundreds.
With Chris Gayle bowling spin and seam, playing to the gallery and generally mucking about, the latter stages took the feel of a beer match. The Windies were terrible, surrendering wickets with daft shots and bowling in a wayward and distracted manner.
England now have three wins out of four and they next play Afghanistan at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
After several days’ of rain, the toss was crucial and Morgan won it. That was not far short of game over.
Evin Lewis was soon bowled by Woakes via his pad but Gayle on 15 was dropped by Mark Wood running in from third man.Woakes, the bowler, could not contain his frustration in a rare display of emotion.
The self-styled Universe Boss was just moving into his savage stride with five fours and a straight six off Woakes when he was caught by Jonny Bairstow at deep square leg.
West Indies were struggling at 55-3 but a partnership of 89 between Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer was threatening to apply pressure to England.
But then Root took two wickets in two overs with Hetmyer and captain Jason Holder his victims – both caught and bowled.
Holder’s dismissal came the ball after he has deposited Root for six over long-off and, let’s be honest, he hit back a filthy delivery that would have been called a wide if Holder had left it.
The Windies never recovered and plummeted from 144-3 to 212 all out – a pathetic collapse.
Like they did with Gayle, England obligingly dropped Andre Russell – Woakes was the culprit – but it did not make much difference.
The high-speed duo of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, whose troublesome left ankle was passed fit an hour before the start, collected three wickets each.
England made light work of their target. Bairstow and Root put on 95 for the first wicket inside 15 overs until Bairstow uppercut a catch to third man.
At one point, Bairstow was hit on the helmet grille – the ball deflected from his arm – by Andre Russell and it was the bowler who limped off as Russell’s wonky left knee finally gave way. It was all a bit of a shambles, to be honest
Then Root and the makeshift No.3 Woakes put on a further 107 for the second wicket until Woakes holed out to deep square leg.
Let’s be honest, it was a one-sided shocker of a match.
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