Adelaide: England remain "hopeful" paceman Jake Ball will recover quicker than expected in a bid to be considered for next week's first Test in Brisbane.
Ball, 26, fell during his delivery stride while bowling at Adelaide Oval on Thursday, and played no further part in the tourists' match against the Cricket Australia XI. The England and Wales Cricket Board have confirmed that Ball sustained a right ankle ligament strain.
The tourists have just one more tour match - a four-day game against the CA XI in Townsville starting on Wednesday - before the battle for the Ashes commences at the Gabba on November 23.
England have drafted in quick George Garton as cover for Ball in Townsville. Garton, 20, has played just nine first-class matches but was already heading to Australia this week as part of the England Lions squad that is shadowing the England squad for some of the Ashes series.
Ball's ailment is the latest in a string of fast bowling concerns for England. Quick Steven Finn has already gone back to England after hurting his knee in Perth, replaced by bowling all-rounder Tom Curran, while seamer Toby Roland-Jones wasn't named in the touring party after suffering a back injury. Then there is all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was stood down by the ECB pending the result of an investigation into an alleged assault in Bristol.
While their stocks are thinning though, the England quicks on tour that remain fit have performed well. The CA XI were bowled out for 75 in their second innings in Adelaide, with Chris Woakes taking 4-17, complemented by Craig Overton (3-15) and James Anderson (3-12). Stuart Broad was rested for the match but should return in Townsville, as should spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali who had been recovering from a side strain.
Overton said Ball's injury would take about seven to 10 days to mend. While that would mean Ball should be fit for the start of the Brisbane Test, it remains to be seen whether England would pick Ball on such a limited build-up given he has bowled just 15.4 over on tour so far.
"He's feeling good. I'm not too sure about the details yet," Overton said.
"We're hopeful that it'll be a bit quicker but we're not entirely sure."
Overton and Woakes have both put up their hands to play in Townsville, wanting as much match practice as possible before the first Test. Veteran Anderson looks likely to be rested for the final warm-up game.