Jake Ball, the 26 year-old Nottinghamshire pace bowler, has been diagnosed with “a right ankle ligament strain” and is regarded as doubtful for England’s third and last warm-up game in Townsville - which Ball will have to play in order to be passed fit for the first Test in Brisbane on November 23.
Ball is a serious loss because he has been England’s sharpest pace bowler apart from James Anderson - or was until Chris Woakes ran through Cricket Australia’s top order with a four-wicket opening spell under lights in Adelaide.
In the absence of other seamers, so many of them injured, England have called up the England Lions and Sussex left-arm seamer George Garton as cover in Townsville for the final warm-up match ahead of the first Test.
Garton is then scheduled to rejoin the Lions party for their camp in Brisbane and Perth. The Lions fly into Brisbane on November 14, for a two-week camp with a red-ball focus culminating in a three-day match against a Queensland XI at the Allan Border Oval from November 27-29.
The possibility should not however be ruled out that Garton, though only 20, could make a sufficient impression in the Townsville game, when replacing Ball, that he could become a sudden addition to the Test squad. He is the nearest England can get to anyone approaching Mitchell Starc, Australia’s outstanding left-arm fast bowler.
The Lions then head west to Perth for two weeks focusing on white-ball skills during which they will play three T20 matches against a Perth Scorchers team who will be preparing for the Big Bash.