Shin soreness forces Jones to miss flight

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Simon Jones, the fast bowler on whom England have pinned a large proportion of their hopes for success in the Caribbean, was forced to miss his flight for the West Indies today as he underwent a bone scan last night.

Jones, who is expected to lead England's attack with Steve Harmison in the West Indies, has been with the England A tour in India but returned home complaining of pain in his shins.

Peter Gregory, the England and Wales Cricket Board's chief medical officer, said yesterday: "Simon Jones has soreness in his left shin from bowling in India. This is a recurrence of a problem which he has had earlier in his career. A precautionary MRI scan was taken yesterday and showed no sign of recent bone injury. In order to provide further reassurance to Simon, however, it was decided that he undergo a bone scan."

As a consequence, Jones's departure to the West Indies has been delayed. He has only just returned to competitive cricket after being out of action for 15 months after rupturing his cruciate ligament during the first Ashes Test in Brisbane in 2002, in only his second Test.

The concerns over Jones's fitness will be disheartening for England, who feel they have a real chance of winning a series in the Caribbean for the first time since 1968.

Indeed, upon his arrival in Jamaica, where the first Test begins on 11 March, the England coach, Duncan Fletcher, spoke of the need for his bowlers to stay fit. "We've had some injury problems, but hopefully we have passed the worst," Fletcher said. "We always seem to be chopping and changing our opening bowlers, and let's hope that doesn't occur on this trip.

"We have to be very careful with Simon," he added, "not to build him up too much - there's a big jump from the competition he's been playing in India to the West Indies at home."

England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, said he did not expect Jones's problem to be serious but added that he did not want to choose half-fit players. "We have learned our lessons from previous times trying to cut corners with injured players and if he has got a stress fracture then obviously that would cause problems," he said. "We have identified standbys. All I can say is that it isn't Richard Johnson or Andrew Caddick as they are recovering from injury."