England's hopes of retaining the Ashes were dealt a severe blow yesterday when Simon Jones was all but ruled out of this winter's series in Australia. Jones took 18 wickets against Australia last summer and his ability to reverse swing the old ball consistently troubled Ricky Ponting's side.
But England will now have to do without Jones after he was forced to have a second operation on his left knee on Wednesday. The 27-year-old fast bowler sustained the injury in February on England's tour of India and returned home immediately for surgery. After rehabilitation, Jones began the season with Glamorgan, playing three games before the problem flared up again.
Rest was initially diagnosed but, after spending six weeks on the sidelines, Jones was sent to America to see the highly regarded knee specialist Dr Richard Steadman. On inspecting Jones's knee, Steadman operated.
"Simon underwent keyhole surgery on Wednesday on his left knee," said Dr Peter Gregory, the chief medical officer at the England and Wales Cricket Board. "The rehabilitation from this surgery must be taken slowly to give Simon the best chance of a good result. At this stage, we do not expect Simon to be bowling for at least five months, which makes his participation in the Ashes extremely unlikely."
The loss of Jones will inevitably place extra pressure on Andrew Flintoff, who was yesterday left out of England's 15-man one-day squad in order to rest his painful left ankle. Flintoff picked up the injury during the third Test against Sri Lanka this week and the subsequent scan revealed bone fragments in the joint.
It was initially felt that Flintoff would require an operation to remove the debris, but surgeons have recommended that the all-rounder has four weeks of rest.
Dr Gregory said: "We have taken advice from two leading ankle surgeons, who both agree that these bone fragments may not be contributing to Andrew's symptoms and that surgery would cause more trauma, and the potential for more scarring and further calcified deposits. Hence, our view is that surgery is very much the last resort."
Flintoff's period of enforced rest will take him up to the first Test against Pakistan, which starts at Lord's on 13 July. Surgery is a last resort but England's Ashes chances would disappear completely should Flintoff suffer a recurrence of the injury before November's first Test in Brisbane.
The absence of Michael Vaughan, who is not fully fit, and Flintoff means that Andrew Strauss will captain England in Tuesday's first one-day international against Ireland, and the Twenty20 and NatWest series matches against Sri Lanka. Strauss captained England in two one-day matches in India, but the side he leads will bear little resemblance to that which he played in last summer.
Injury has deprived England of six first-choice players and the selectors have dropped six more from the one-day squad that toured India in April.
England have attempted to fill the void by selecting five uncapped players. Glen Chapple, the old Lancashire warhorse, has been given a belated chance to impress, and he will be joined by Tim Bresnan, an exciting young cricketer from Yorkshire.
The Middlesex contingent, following the selection of Ed Joyce and Jamie Dalrymple, has risen to three and Alex Loudon is the final uncapped player.
Ian Bell is having a disappointing season with Warwickshire after being left out of the Test side and could be vying with Alastair Cook for one spot.
"This will be a tough Test for the team," said David Graveney, the chairman of selectors. "The selection of Bresnan and Chapple in particular is designed to provide the captain and coach with more flexibility in the bowling attack."
* A stress fracture of the ankle had ruled the Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar out of the squad for the Test series against England.
Three county cricketers looking for their first caps
Bresnan's stocky build, lively away swingers and powerful lower-order batting have brought comparisons with Darren Gough, even though he lacks the pace of the ex-Yorkshire favourite. Took 47 first-class wickets in 2005, his first full year of county cricket.
The Dublin-born Joyce qualified to play for England in 2005. Joyce is an elegant left-hander, whose style has been compared to David Gower. He has scored more than 1,000 runs in each of the last four seasons and represented England A in the winter.
Dalrymple was predominantly an off-spinner when he joined Middlesex but, to date, it is as a batsman that he has made progress. Hits the ball very hard and has an impressive strike rate. Approaching 100 first-class wickets and is a magnificent fielder.
England's one-day squad
* A J Strauss (c), I R Bell, T T Bresnan, G Chapple, P D Collingwood, A N Cook, J W M Dalrymple, S J Harmison, G O Jones, E C Joyce, A G R Loudon, S I Mahmood, K P Pietersen, L E Plunkett, M E Trescothick.
Tuesday 13 June v Ireland (Stormont)
Thursday 15 June Twenty20 International v Sri Lanka (The Rose Bowl, 7.15pm start)
Saturday 17 June 1st ODI v Sri Lanka (Lord's)
Tuesday 20 June 2nd ODI v Sri Lanka (The Oval)
Saturday 24 June 3rd ODI v Sri Lanka (The Riverside)
Wednesday 28 June 4th ODI v Sri Lanka (Old Trafford)
Saturday 1 July 5th ODI v Sri Lanka (Headingley)Reuse content