England fast bowler Chris Woakes is likely to miss the first two matches of home series against South Africa in July. Woakes had been ruled out from Champions Trophy due to a side strain in the opening game of Champions Trophy at The Oval.
As per the medical report, Woakes will have to undergo four to six weeks rehabilitation program. It means he is all but confirmed to miss the opening Test against South Africa, which begins at Lord’s on July 6, and possibly the second as well which will be played at Trent Bridge on July 13.
Even, Woakes was able to bowl by then, he would have had no competitive action in which to prove his fitness. Another issue could be that the NatWest Blast will dominate the domestic schedule at that time, so Woakes may be limited to four overs spells ahead of the potential return in the third Test at Old Trafford on July 27.
“It’s a left side strain and there is a tear in the muscle,” Woakes said at a Chance to Shine event. “It’s a grade-two injury, which is not terrible news, but it’s not great news at the same time.
“They say it’s roughly a four- to six-week injury, and it’s more likely to be towards the six when I am back playing competitive cricket. I’m on day five of my recovery now, and the physios say for the first 10 to 14 days there’s not a lot we can do other than rest it.
“You don’t rule it out, but I’m probably up against it for the first Test. Sometimes these things heal quicker; sometimes they take longer, so we have to play it by ear.
“It’s also one of those things you can’t rush back – if you do, it can just ping again. You have to make sure you’re right before you come back. The timing of it is frustrating, it’s terrible, but it’s one of those things.”’
Woakes took 34 wickets in six home Tests the last year-26 of them in four-match series against Pakistan although the five Tests he played on the tours of Bangladesh and India were tougher as he claimed just six wickets.
James Anderson is doubtful after suffering a groin injury last month playing for Lancashire, although he has returned to gentle training.
Anderson, Woakes and Stuart Broad would have been England’s likely front-line pace attack to start the South Africa series, supplemented by Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, but there could also be question-marks over the workload Stokes can sustain in Tests due to his troublesome knee. If reinforcements are needed, Mark Wood, Jake Ball, Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones would be in the mix.
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