England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Trent Bridge July 17, 2017

Ballance faces X-ray after sustaining blow to left index finger

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Gary Ballance took a blow to the left hand while batting on the fourth day at Trent Bridge © AFP

Gary Ballance is to have an X-ray on his left index finger after sustaining a blow on it when batting on the fourth day of the Trent Bridge Test.

Ballance was hit by a delivery from Morne Morkel as England slid to a 340-run defeat at the hands of South Africa. It is, in terms of runs, the second-largest defeat South Africa have inflicted upon England.

Any break would render Ballance a severe doubt for the third Investec Test which starts at The Oval on July 27.

With only 85 runs in the series at an average of 21.15, Ballance has not made a compelling case for his continued selection. While recent policy would suggest the selectors would allow him until the end of the series to prove himself, it is not impossible they could be swayed by any injury doubt.

Mark Wood's bruised left heel will also be monitored over the coming days, with an England spokesman suggesting "he might have a scan" if it was deemed necessary. Wood returned to Test cricket at Lord's for the first time since October 2015 and has undergone three bouts of surgery on his left ankle.

The England selectors are expected to meet over the next couple of days to name their squad for the third Test.

Speaking after the game, England's new captain Joe Root kept his options open in terms of selection, but hinted that he favoured no dramatic changes.

"We will sit down over the next couple of days," he said. "The top six are talented players and they will be desperate to make their chances count when they come along."

"It's important at The Oval we try to get off to a really strong start especially in the first innings and those guys are more than capable of doing it. The way they've gone about things in practice and the runs they've scored in county cricket have been outstanding and now it's just about doing it in international cricket."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Graham on July 18, 2017, 14:46 GMT

    With no first-class cricket going on, it's hard to call who comes in. Hameed has zero form and very little time in the middle this summer. Tom Westley is a candidate, for sure, but I favour Mark Stoneman as a form player in all formats. His record is held back by years of opening on helpful decks at the Riverside. He'd be averaging well over 40 if he's played at Surrey his whole career. I would personally drop Jennings too but I doubt they will. Rory Burns, compact and with Trott-like focus and zen, is another option. And Mark Wood has to go too. Not good enough by a long chalk. Ball will no doubt be next in line with Woakes not fit but if they wanted a pacier option and some variety they could do a lot worse than Mark Footitt - footmarks for Moeen to work with too. And now he's just moved back to Notts, it isn't quite as many Surrey players, who i'd normally back through gritted teeth! Cook, Stoneman, Burns, Root, Stokes, Bairstow, Ali, Rashid, Broad, Anderson, Footitt.

  • Graham on July 18, 2017, 14:46 GMT

    With no first-class cricket going on, it's hard to call who comes in. Hameed has zero form and very little time in the middle this summer. Tom Westley is a candidate, for sure, but I favour Mark Stoneman as a form player in all formats. His record is held back by years of opening on helpful decks at the Riverside. He'd be averaging well over 40 if he's played at Surrey his whole career. I would personally drop Jennings too but I doubt they will. Rory Burns, compact and with Trott-like focus and zen, is another option. And Mark Wood has to go too. Not good enough by a long chalk. Ball will no doubt be next in line with Woakes not fit but if they wanted a pacier option and some variety they could do a lot worse than Mark Footitt - footmarks for Moeen to work with too. And now he's just moved back to Notts, it isn't quite as many Surrey players, who i'd normally back through gritted teeth! Cook, Stoneman, Burns, Root, Stokes, Bairstow, Ali, Rashid, Broad, Anderson, Footitt.

  • guyajw5204138 on July 18, 2017, 7:06 GMT

    @Fraser. I don't like your team :) Hameed is woefully out of nick, and bringing him in now would be like tossing him to the lions. Bairstow kept pretty much as well as he has ever done in these two games so taking the gloves from him now is bizarre. Personally, I'd bring in Westley to bat #3 and Dan Lawrence to bat #5. I'd then push Jonny back down to #7, Mo to #8 and drop Dawson. This gives us an extra batter. It's true that Westley's overall average is, um, average, but in the last two seasons it has rocketed and he seems to have discovered his game. As Bryce says, blooding players against these bowlers is hard but something needs to change. Can anyone honestly say they want Ballance batting at #3 in the Ashes?

  • Andy on July 18, 2017, 7:02 GMT

    Ballance has definitely been batting in the wrong spot these last 2 tests. He should have been at Headingly....

  • Bryce on July 18, 2017, 5:38 GMT

    Good luck blooding new batsmen against Morkel, Philander, Rabada and Morris lol. I think Root at 3 and Bairstow at 4

  • castro6065533 on July 18, 2017, 5:38 GMT

    I don't think that dropping Ballance will make a great deal of difference, especially considering most of the proposed replacements (Stoneman, Westley) have first class averages well and truly the wrong side of 40. Yes Ballance is technically flawed, but he may well be the best option England have right now.

  • Altaf on July 18, 2017, 4:08 GMT

    Both are wasted in any means. So it doesn't matter they play or not. In fact good if they get replaced.

  • David on July 17, 2017, 23:20 GMT

    Interesting to note that in both players last first class innings, right handed license to attack Jos Butler opened and right handed Hasaab Hameed batted at first drop, and vice versa the previous innings. Not with any success mind you, but we know what they can bring as well as being right handers.

  • Peter on July 17, 2017, 23:17 GMT

    I want to see Ballance at 5 for the next two games

  • Alex on July 17, 2017, 21:25 GMT

    Bring rory burns and liam livingstone. They can be fit for this england team. don't ask how. England need some luck (liam livingstone) and courage ( roryburns).

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