Ben Stokes will miss England's Test series against New Zealand as he requires surgery on a broken finger that will rule the all-rounder out for up to three months.
Stokes broke his hand taking a catch for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League earlier this week and a repeat X-ray and CT scan on Friday revealed that he has a fracture of his left index finger.
A specialist hand surgeon told Stokes that he would require surgery and the 29 year-old will now fly home from India and have surgery in Leeds.
Originally, it had been thought that Stokes might only be ruled out for six weeks, and therefore still be in contention to play the first Test against New Zealand, which is at Lord's on June 2.
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Instead, Stokes will now miss both NZ Tests, as well as the three Twenty20 internationals and three one-day internationals against Sri Lanka.He is also likely to miss the three ODIs and three T20Is against Pakistan, which conclude on July 20.
Stokes' absence will have major implications for England's Test side against New Zealand, depriving them of an all-rounder who balances their side.
Without Stokes, England should be able to retain both Dan Lawrence and Ollie Pope in their Test XI, if they deem that four specialist bowlers are sufficient in early-season conditions. One of the two may yet bat at No 3 - the only way of accommodating both in a full-strength line-up when Stokes returns at five, with Joe Root at four.
England's batting situation is further complicated by opener Dom Sibley suffering a suspected broken finger, too. Should Sibley be fit, England's likeliest top six for the first Test at Lord's at this stage is Sibley, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Root, Pope and Lawrence. But Burns was dropped last winter and needs to score consistently in county cricket to retain his berth.
If England feel that they need a fifth bowler, then Chris Woakes could slot in at No 7, below the wicketkeeper - either Jos Buttler, depending on Rajasthan's IPL availability, or either Ben Foakes or James Brace. In this scenario, England would have to leave out one of Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Pope and Lawrence.
Stokes now faces a race to be Test-match fit for England's summer opener against India, which begins at Trent Bridge on August 4. England play five Tests against India, but, with the Hundred launching on July 21, Stokes could now go into that series without any first-class cricket in five months, going back to England's 3-1 defeat in India last winter.