Thursday, 28 July 2016, 10:33am
England call for Finn and Ball as Ben Stokes absence from Edgbaston is confirmed
It came as no surprise on Wednesday afternoon when the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed Stokes' absence with a torn calf from a 13-man squad to face Pakistan in Birmingham.
Before a ball is bowled there, though, his injury will be reassessed - with uncertainty surrounding not just his readiness for the fourth and final Investec Test at The Oval, but possibly the limited-overs programme to follow.
Stokes limped out of England's attack as they closed on their series-levelling victory over Pakistan at Old Trafford on Monday.
After MRI scans on his injury, the ECB specified its nature but no further prognosis as they announced their squad without him.
It contains, as expected, specialist seamers Steven Finn and Jake Ball to vie for Stokes' place - with Adil Rashid as a second spin option once more, along with the remainder of the winning team in Manchester.
An ECB press release read: "Durham and England all-rounder Ben Stokes will miss the Test after an MRI scan revealed that he sustained a torn right calf during the fourth day of England's 330-run victory over Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford.
"The 25-year-old will be reviewed by the England medical team next week, when the squad reports to Birmingham on Monday morning."
Stokes has had an injury-ravaged summer, in which he has yet to complete a Test match or play in any limited-overs fixture for his country.
He had to have surgery on his left knee after injuring himself during the first Test against Sri Lanka in May.
He missed two subsequent matches in that series victory, and the four one-day internationals and a Twenty20 that followed, before returning at Old Trafford.
England have opted against a like-for-like all-rounder replacement, with the four-match series level at 1-1.
Instead, either Finn or Ball - both alongside Rashid in an initial 14 for Old Trafford - appears set to complete a four-man seam attack.
Alternatively, the Yorkshire leg-spinner may yet be granted his maiden Test on home soil - having played only in the United Arab Emirates so far, in England's series defeat against Pakistan last winter.
James Anderson, who like Stokes returned from injury last week, showed no ill-effects as he recorded match figures of four for 68 in 29 overs on his home ground.
England's all-time leading wicket-taker is therefore safely back in harness as Alastair Cook's hosts seek to consolidate their fightback from defeat in the series opener at Lord's.
The only other issue facing the selectors is the lack of productivity in the middle order below Joe Root and Cook - specifically from James Vince, who has yet to make a half-century in seven attempts so far in his maiden summer.
Coach Trevor Bayliss admitted before Wednesday morning's selection meeting that Vince's position would be discussed. In a winning team, though, the 25-year-old has been given another chance.
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England's Ben Stokes will miss the Edgbaston Test