Olly Stone’s faint hopes of appearing for England with the Ashes this summer could be based on the outcome of an inquest on Monday to determine the severity of his most recent injury.
Stone retired early in the series with a hamstring injury and threw just three balls on his comeback for Nottinghamshire at Friday’s Vitality Blast before limping off the pitch.
According to the PA news agency, Stone experienced a twinge behind the knee on the same leg as the thigh discomfort, prompting him to exercise caution in Nottinghamshire’s defeat by the Birmingham Bears.
The results of Monday’s assessment will shed light on the extent of the problem – and whether England will be deprived of another fast bowler in their bid to win back the urn from their arch-rivals.
England wanted plenty of chances as the Test tightens but Stone’s lack of match acuity must also be a significant factor, even if the 29-year-old’s new setback is not serious.
While Stone has contested just three Tests, the last in June 2021, his ability to consistently hit speeds of 90mph was recognized by England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Rob Key earlier in the year.
England’s other express pace options were also not used in the first two tests against Australia, with Jofra Archer sidelined for the summer, although Mark Wood could return at Headingley next week.
Stone has had an unlucky streak with injuries that have limited him to just 46 top-flight games since June 2012, including four stress fractures to his back – the most recent of which led to surgery to reinforce his lower spine with two metal screws, improving his prospects of more testing play.
After returning from a broken finger last summer, he impressed with four ODIs and a T20 in the winter – and could be in contention when England defend their World Cup in India later this year.
Stone was an unused squad member during England’s Test tour of New Zealand in February before recording six wickets in two games for Nottinghamshire in the LV= Insurance County Championship.
Injury struck against Lancashire in early May but Stone, although clearly unwell, hobbled to the crease as the last man and saved the last four legal shots of Division One to help Nottinghamshire to a draw.
The 29-year-old made a good catch against the Bears coming back for Nottinghamshire but was eliminated early on when he took the lead midway through his first over.