England without Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali

England are facing an injury crisis at the worst possible time with three key players ruled out of Monday’s final one-day international against South Africa and the Champions Trophy just four days away.

Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali will all be missing at Lord’s for the Royal London dead rubber as England attempt to ensure they are instead available to face Bangladesh at the Oval on Thursday.

England insist their actions are precautionary and that all three should be fine when their bid to finally win a global 50-over title begins later this week but it must be a concern that three important players are carrying knocks.

Ben Stokes will not feature for England in the third one-day international against South Africa

They also said it was not a gamble to play the crucial figure of Stokes in Saturday’s thrilling two-run victory at Southampton that sealed a significant series win for England but now he faces another scan on his sore left knee.

And Woakes, who was rested on Saturday with what was described as a minor thigh injury, now faces a second match on the sidelines after spending six gruelling weeks with Kolkata at the Indian Premier League.

The new worry is a groin problem for Moeen, who was man of the match in England’s opening victory against South Africa and has been an important figure since returning to the side after missing the two victories against Ireland.

In the absence of the trio England have called up the Middlesex pair of Steven Finn and the uncapped Toby Roland-Jones and Hampshire’s left-arm spinner Liam Dawson rather than relying on Champions Trophy squad players.

Dawson looks certain to play with England left having the choice of fielding both Finn and Roland-Jones on their home ground or instead giving chances to David Willey and the extremely unlucky Jonny Bairstow.

All-rounder Chris Woakes won’t be risked, either, but the move is said to be precautionary

The biggest concern has to be Stokes, who showed how important he is to England with a century at the Ageas Bowl but who was then forced to limp away to the outfield after bowling just three painful overs.

Stokes remains convinced the problem is a minor one and unrelated to the cartilage injury suffered during the Headingley Test against Sri Lanka last year that forced him into another spell on the sidelines.

‘It is just in my delivery stride when I bowl,’ said Stokes. ‘It is just a bit of a sensation running up the side of my knee. Batting, running around the field and everything like that is absolutely fine. We are managing it as well as we can and it’s an injury that sometimes just goes away.

‘I have good and bad days so I could wake up tomorrow and it will be completely gone but I will just have to monitor it over the next few days. We only really find out how it is when I start bowling.’

It has been decided that there is no point in risking Stokes, especially as the weather forecast for St John’s Wood is poor, but he will have another scan tomorrow on the knee that needed an operation last year.

Moeen Ali has been impressive in the series but he too will sit out the match at Lord’s

‘I’m going to get a few more scans just to get an idea what’s happening in there,’ said Stokes. ‘Then the doctors, physios and strength and conditioning staff might have a better idea of what we can do to counter-act it. Maybe then we can take the problem away which is what we all want.’

Stokes showed again on Saturday he is good enough to play as a specialist batsman with his second one-day century after a far from promising start that could have seen him dismissed three times before he had scored.

But while Stokes the batsman is good Stokes the all-rounder balances the side and offers England so much more. He would undoubtedly remain in the Champions Trophy squad even if he cannot bowl but it would be a huge blow to England’s chances of their first global title over the longer one-day distance.

At least the good news was that other pieces of the jigsaw fell into place on Saturday with a return to his outstanding best from Jos Buttler and a brilliant last over from Mark Wood that snatched an unlikely victory.

via Cricket Articles | Mail Online

May 28, 2017 at 03:36PM

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