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Flu bug flattens English

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“It creates that intensity, which you need. There’s a bit more on it, lads will go at it with both bat and ball, it means that bit more”

England’s squad has been hit by debilitating flu bug that has laid low a few members of their attack including up-and-coming superstar Jofra Archer.

It led to the England Cricket Board requesting that the three-day match between the tourists and 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. James Anderson for one was looking forward to a competitive encounter to help prove his readiness for the first Test.

“It creates that intensity, which you need. There’s a bit more on it, lads will go at it with both bat and ball, it means that bit more,” Anderson said before the match’s status was downgraded.

Anderson bowled 11 overs, across two spells in a two day match against an Invitational XI that finished on Wednesday and said he was pleased with how he’d performed. “I’ve bowled in nets, bowled in the middle, but you can’t recreate that match intensity. I was just a little bit off the pace in the first spell, it felt a lot better in the second spell.”

The 37-year-old, who’s 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.

“I know I’m not up to match speed yet and that is something I’ve got try and getter better at by the end of the week.”

Depending on everyone’s recovery, Anderson may yet get a chance to add to his 575 Test wickets at SuperSport Park, while he is also keen to play in the same team as Archer, who has been a revelation since earning his first England cap earlier this year.

“I’m just looking to force my way back into the side, whether I get the chance to bowl with Jofra (or not). I’ve missed bowling with Broady watching from the sidelines, was difficult. I just want to be out there and enjoy it with them. I’m just hopeful to get my fitness up to speed and to be bowling well enough to get picked for the first Test,” said Anderson.

Squads

England: Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (capt), Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Ollie Pope, Ben Stokes, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Matt Parkinson, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson.

South Africa A: Temba Bavuma, Nandre Burger, Theunis de Bruyn, Reeza Hendricks, Pieter Malan , Andile Phehlukwayo , Dane Piedt, Lutho Sipamla, Glenton Stuurman, Pite van Biljon, Kyle Verreynne