Eoin Morgan, the England batsman, will miss the rest of the one-day series against India because of a shoulder injury. Although this undoubtedly debilitates the home side's middle order, it might help to salvage the international career of Ravi Bopara.
England will not summon a replacement, which means they have no spare batsman in the squad with three matches left. If they continue with the team balance they have favoured recently, Bopara will probably fit into the No 6 position. His seam bowling would be an asset, although another option would be to move up Samit Patel as a second spinner.
Sympathy from England's opponents is unlikely to be overwhelming. So stricken are the tourists that only four of the team who won the World Cup in May are still with the squad. In all, eight players suffering from various ailments have been forced to leave early for home, six of whom took part in their memorable triumph in Mumbai. It was a small wonder that yesterday dawned without another casualty.
None, even the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, may be quite so much missed as Morgan will be by England. He is recognised as the team's most accomplished limited-overs batsman, able quickly to assess the position of a match and respond accordingly.
Morgan first sustained the injury during the Ashes tour last winter and it returned after the Twenty20 match at Old Trafford last week. He has been receiving low-key treatment all summer but that will now be increased.
England's chief medical officer, Nick Peirce, said: "He has been managing the injury until now with a conservative programme. Unfortunately there has been an acute flare in his pain which has not responded to treatment.
"This is a chronic injury and predominantly affects Eoin's diving and throwing. He now requires a progression in his treatment and will undertake further specialist assessment in the next week before a decision on his forthcoming treatment will be determined."
England will be desperate for Morgan to regain fitness by the time they go to India for five return one-day matches in October. There, his ability to improvise and hit the ball out of the ground will be crucial if England are to have a realistic chance.
The extent of his discomfort had been kept quiet and England did not announce his withdrawal until late in the afternoon as rain continued to fall on the Rose Bowl where the second match of the series was due to be played. Only the optimistic satellite forecasts gave reason to believe that a shortened match might take place.
Common sense often seemed to dictate that an early abandonment might be wise, given that curtailed matches are frequently unsatisfactory. However, Hampshire, the host county, were desperate for the match to take place.
The Test match at the ground between England and Sri Lanka earlier this summer was badly affected by rain and the county still owe the England and Wales Cricket Board a substantial proportion of the fee they bid to stage it.Reuse content