Just as England's walking wounded seemed to be creaking back into action in time for the warmer weather, their No 1 spinner, Ashley Giles, was yesterday ruled out of the Test and one-day series against Sri Lanka, which begin next month, because of the need for a hernia operation.
Of the India absentees, Michael Vaughan was spotted in the nets last week and Simon Jones another knee injury victim and Marcus Trescothick, apparently a virus sufferer, brushed off the cobwebs at the weekend. Giles' recovery from a hip operation before Christmas has been less straightforward and the 33-year-old left-arm spinner now aims to be available for the first Test against Pakistan on 13 July.
The diagnosis Giles is suffering from a condition known as Gilmore's Groin is actually good news as it explains the mystery of his slow recovery and means that thoughts that his hip problem, which has plagued him since the start of last summer, might bring a premature end to his career could be dispelled.
Giles insists he is in "cheery" mood, saying he is just glad to have got to the bottom of his injury riddle. "I got some strange looks in the waiting room. There were other people waiting to see the specialist and I sort of cheered and said, 'I've got a hernia, great news' and I think they thought I was a complete nutcase, to be honest," Giles said.
"We were looking at another hip operation which is a lot more major surgery and it's a longer process to get back, about three months. Whereas this I'm told is six weeks, and within two weeks I'll be back running, three weeks sprinting. I feel a lot happier because it has been a difficult time."
In the mean time, his role in the team is likely to be filled by Shaun Udal or Monty Panesar, who did enough in three Tests in India to suggest he can become a long-term replacement for Giles.
* Upul Tharanga began Sri Lanka's tour with a stylish hundred against the British Universities at Fenner's yesterday. The left-handed opener helped Mahela Jayawardene's team recover from a shaky start. Sri Lanka were eventually bowled out for 289 in 74.2 overs, but reduced the Universities to 13 for 2 in reply.Reuse content