The England paceman Tim Bresnan has been ruled out of the rest of the season with a stress fracture of the back and is unlikely to be fit for the second half of the back-to-back Ashes series in Australia this winter.
The Yorkshire seamer played a pivotal role in the last Test match in Durham to help England win the Ashes but he will definitely miss the final Test at The Oval next week as well as the subsequent Twenty20 matches and one-day international series against Australia.
A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board said: “Bresnan will begin a recovery and rehabilitation programme and a date for his return to cricket will be determined in due course.” However, the nature of the injury suggests that he will not be fit for the start of the Test series in Australia and may therefore be left at home by the selectors.
The timing is cruel for Bresnan but from the point of view of England’s coach, Andy Flower, he has plenty of options to replace the bustling seamer. The 28-year-old, who has played 21 Tests and 76 one-day internationals, has figured in the last three matches of the current Ashes series after replacing fast bowler Steve Finn for the second Test at Lord’s.
During the rest of the series he held off the claims of other pace bowlers including Chris Tremlett at Old Trafford, returning after injury himself, and Graham Onions on his home ground at Chester-le-Street.
In Durham on Monday, Bresnan came to the rescue with the bat after England had lost two quick wickets which exposed the tail to the new ball with the hosts leading by little more than 200. Bresnan scored 45, including six boundaries, and shepherded the lower order to set a target of 299.
Australia began their run chase in impressive style and had reached 120 for 1 at tea with opener David Warner playing with freedom and aplomb. It was Bresnan who made the crucial breakthrough, obtaining unexpected lift to a well-directed ball around Warner’s off stump which the left-hander nicked helplessly into the gloves of wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
That kick-started a remarkable session for England in which they claimed nine wickets and, ultimately, victory by 74 runs. Bresnan also claimed the scalp of Shane Watson, dismissing him lbw with a ball that the DRS showed would have clipped leg stump, albeit marginally.
Those two breaches served to usher in Stuart Broad’s brilliant spell of sustained fast bowling which provided England with their dramatic win in the gloaming and ensured that they won a third successive Ashes series for the first time since the 1950s.
Australia’s pacemen have themselves been bedevilled by similar injuries. Their most dangerous bowler on this tour, James Pattinson, sustained a stress fracture of the lower back during the second Test at Lord’s and missed the rest of the series.
Another of their crop of young pacemen, Pat Cummings, had been out of action for nine months with a back injury until he returned for the A team’s recent tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe. He was then sent home with further injury problems.
Fawad Ahmed is expected finally to make his debut for Australia after the leg-spinner was named in the limited-overs squad. The 31-year-old, who arrived in Australia as a refugee from Pakistan in 2010, was granted citizenship after a change in the law last month and impressed on the A tour.