Darren Gough '“ Nothing wrong with warm-ups, we are all just failed footballers

JONNY BAIRSTOW'S ankle injury sustained while playing football '“ making him a doubt for England's Test opener with Sri Lanka '“ has opened up a familiar debate about cricketers playing football during warm-ups.

KEEP IT UP-PY: England's Joe Root attends a practice football session ahead of their third one-day international cricket match against Sri Lanka Picture: AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
KEEP IT UP-PY: England's Joe Root attends a practice football session ahead of their third one-day international cricket match against Sri Lanka Picture: AP/Eranga Jayawardena)

Let’s face it, we all love the game and are failed footballers. It has been something that has gone on since I started way back in 1989. It will continue to be played by cricketers ahead of games.

The stupid thing about the thing with Jonny is that he was not even kicking a football when he got injured. He was running and his foot just got caught in the grass.

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The only problem for me is that when us cricketers play football we all turn into idiots, don’t we? It may be non-contact, but there is contact. There are guys who want to do their little trip-ups and push and pull, while some want to pretend to dive to get a foul.

Sri Lanka's Akila Dananjaya, second left, celebrates the dismissal of England's Ben Stokes during the fifth one-day international in Colombo on Tuesday. Picture: AP/Eranga Jayawardena

It is just a bit of a mess about, and the reason the players do it before the start of games is that they want to get people up for it.

If you have had a long day and have been sitting around it is a way of just getting the energy going again.

It used to be ‘touch rugby’, but the lads found it boring in my day. Football is what everyone wants to do and I think every team does it, not just England.

Sri Lanka were playing it before the last one-dayer in their warm-up, and they have got the worst football team in the world.

UNLUCKY: England's Jonny Bairstow Picture: AP/Eranga Jayawardena.

So, as far as I am concerned, there is nothing wrong with cricketers continuing to play football in warm-ups.

In terms of reflecting on the one-day series as a whole, I was totally impressed with England with the way they went about things; the way they trained, practised and their keenness on the field.

I know they made quite a few changes in the last game in Colombo and the game went against them, but I do think people were a bit harsh saying it was England’s biggest one-day defeat and that they were arguing in the field.

A few mistakes were made. We spoke about Eoin Morgan being the one player whose place was under threat if he did not score – even though he is captain. But he was outstanding in the series with the bat, as well as the way he captained.

But in the last game he had a few issues as he knew that, as the game was rain-affected, he needed to get some games for a few of his guys with the T20 coming up.

He brought in Sam Curran to play with his brother Tom, which was a great story, an amazing feat. I played in the game the last time two brothers played for England in 1999 when Ben and Adam Hollioakes featured.

Liam Plunkett was also selected. Liam has been one of England’s best one-day bowlers alongside Chris Woakes, but with him getting married I think it was a bit of a mistake in terms of him coming out.

He came out with his wife on the trip and it is a bit of a honeymoon and he was only going to be fit to play in one one-dayer and a T20 game. The management should have said, ‘take this tour off and be ready for the West Indies’. So that was a strange one.

Mark Wood then got a run out because he was not in the Test squad. So you had three bowlers playing who had not bowled a ball in the whole series – who had previously been bowling in rain-affected nets. They needed some time in the middle, especially Sam, who is in the Test squad.

For the others, it was a case of, ‘let’s just give them a game, we have won the series’.

It was a poor performance, but Sri Lanka, to be fair, looked a good young side who are just a year away from challenging consistently.

They have got young bowlers like Dushmantha Chameera and Kusan Rajitha, who are fantastic seamers with serious pace. They have the mystery spin of Akila Dananjaya and Lakshan Sandakan and also young talents like Kusal Mendis, who came to the party and Dusan Shanaka, who bats in the middle order. There is also Niroshan Dickwella and Sadeera Samarawickrama.

The World Cup will probably come a year too soon for Sri Lanka, but, for England, I am looking beyond that one poor performance.

Overall their dedication and willingness to get out on the field has been unbelievable.

They were going in the gym before games and after. Ben Stokes was never out of the gym or Bairstow. It was hugely impressive to see.