England T20 selectors face headache after Jamie Overton’s back injury

<span>Jamie Overton in action for Surrey during the County Championship earlier this month.</span><span>Photograph: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Surrey CCC</span>
Jamie Overton in action for Surrey during the County Championship earlier this month.Photograph: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Surrey CCC

England have seen their selection for the T20 World Cup complicated by a back injury to Jamie Overton and now face an anxious two-week wait to discover the full extent of the all-rounder’s problem.

Though uncapped in T20 internationals, Surrey’s Overton is understood to have been lined up as a wildcard for England’s title defence in the Caribbean and USA in June. It follows a strong run of form in franchise cricket and the withdrawal of Ben Stokes from selection.

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But the 30-year-old’s prospects are now in the balance after scans on a recent back injury – one that ruled him out of last week’s Championship game at Kent – proved inconclusive. Overton, who has suffered lower back stress fractures in the past, has been told to take a fortnight’s rest before further tests are undertaken.

Rob Key and his selection panel are due to name a preliminary 15-man squad for the World Cup next week, one that will likely mirror that for the four-match series at home to Pakistan at the end of next month. Their final squad must be submitted by 25 May at the latest, the same day as the second of those games.

Though a 6ft 5in fast bowler, Overton has caught the eye this past year as a dangerous six-hitter in the lower order. He played last summer’s T20 Blast as a batter while recovering from a lower-back stress fracture, before going on to crash 202 runs at a strike-rate of 181.98 for Manchester Originals and be named MVP in the men’s Hundred.

This dual role was further explored over the winter. He finished as the leading wicket taker for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League – 16 wickets taken while honing his craft as a death bowler – before a spell with Gulf Giants in the ILT20 that featured an explosive 18-ball 41 against eventual winners MI Emirates.

Overton’s proficiency with the bat has been seen at international level before with his solitary Test cap against New Zealand in 2022 featuring a match-changing 97 from No 8. But for the detection of that initial stress fracture, he might have featured in last summer’s Ashes series.

Other possible contenders for the World Cup squad include spinners Rehan Ahmed and Tom Hartley, while England are also hopeful that Jofra Archer can prove his fitness against Pakistan following a two-year injury ordeal.

That series is England’s only cricket before the World Cup but overlaps with the playoffs of the Indian Premier League that start on 22 May and run until 26 May. England will decide nearer the time whether to allow any relevant players – for example Phil Salt, at second-placed Kolkata Knight Riders – to complete the tournament or return home.