Butcher's run may be halted by knee injury

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The Independent Online

Mark Butcher, the Surrey and England batsman, has been told he will require surgery to correct an injury to his left knee, aggravated during England's win over Sri Lanka in the second Test at Edgbaston.

Mark Butcher, the Surrey and England batsman, has been told he will require surgery to correct an injury to his left knee, aggravated during England's win over Sri Lanka in the second Test at Edgbaston.

Butcher, England's most successful batsman since regaining his Test place against Australia almost a year ago, has been concerned about the knee for a while but only found out the full extent of the problem following a scan yesterday.

The scan showed the batsman had damaged a pad in the knee that cushions the stresses and strains of running. It is not thought to be serious but will require arthroscopic surgery. This will enable the joint to be cleaned out as well as a tidying up of the affected area.

While arthroscopies remain one the least invasive methods of surgery, the procedure will keep Butcher out of action, following rehabilitation for at least two to three weeks. The scheduling of the surgery depends largely on the selectors, Nasser Hussain, Duncan Fletcher, David Graveney and Geoff Miller, who are fully aware of the player's predicament.

Butcher is not yet incapacitated by the injury, but inconvenienced enough to force him from the field for large periods at Edgbaston, as well as forcing him to miss Surrey's National League game against Northamptonshire on Tuesday.

For the selectors, who have already shown, with the sides they have picked, their desire to see this summer off to a winning start, a decision needs to be made, and Butcher's injury will definitely be on the agenda when they meet to pick the side for the third Test, starting a week today.

While there is an understandable reluctance to leave out a player who has scored 1,063 runs at an average of 46.22 in the thirteen Tests since his recall, they must also be wary of the longer term damage that playing on could cause.

Butcher at least can take consolation from the fact he has established himself in the Test side – he should regain his place as soon as he proves his fitness. It may, however, affect his chances of forcing his way back into England's one-day plans for next year's World Cup, the basis for which will be laid during the triangular one-day series later this month.

The likeliest benefactor from this news is John Crawley, who was omitted from the final XI at Edgbaston following a reasonable performance at Lord's. How warmly his return to his old hunting ground is greeted, following his fall out with Lancashire, will be of interest to all.

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