England lost their second player this year to the same freak injury on Wednesday when Ben Foakes was ruled out for three months with a torn left hamstring.
Just as Zak Crawley put himself out of the first Test against India last winter when he slipped on a dressing-room floor in Chennai, so Foakes took a tumble of his own.
The keeper-batsman, outstanding in three Tests in India in place of the rested Jos Buttler, slipped and badly hurt himself while walking through the Oval dressing room in his socks after Surrey’s drawn Championship match against Middlesex on Sunday.
Ben Foakes will miss England’s Test series with New Zealand next month after a freak accident in which he slipped over in The Oval dressing room and tore his hamstring
It is an enormous blow for the wicketkeeper-batsman, who had been due to play for England in the Test series against New Zealand next month
It is a cruel blow for Foakes, 28, who was due to play his first home Test at Lord’s next week against New Zealand and had the chance to finally establish himself in the red-ball side in the IPL-inspired absence of both Buttler and Jonny Bairstow.
Now, without Foakes for both the Lord’s Test next Wednesday and the second at Edgbaston that quickly follows, England will hand a debut to Gloucestershire’s James Bracey, who was selected primarily as cover for England’s batsmen.
Bracey, 24, made a good impression on head coach and new selection supremo Chris Silverwood as a squad player last summer and in the winter and will now follow in the footsteps of Jack Russell in becoming a Gloucestershire keeper-batsman for England.
The left-hander is considered to be a top-three Test batsman in the making by England but is a more than capable gloveman and will almost certainly bat at seven at Lord’s.
Foakes was due to replace the rested Jos Buttler (pictured) for the New Zealand series
Foakes bats for Surrey during their County Championship match against Hampshire
Silverwood could have gone back to one of the established duo of Buttler or Bairstow but has stuck to his pledge to leave out the bulk of those players who had to spend a 10-day spell in quarantine on their return from the curtailed IPL.
The exception to that is the uncapped Sam Billings who was yesterday called up as cover for Bracey after making a rapid return for Kent last week against Glamorgan on his own return from India.
Billings, who had been playing in the IPL for Delhi Capitals, is deemed to be more match ready by Silverwood and is experienced in white-ball cricket with England.
There was also a call-up yesterday for Haseeb Hameed, who will join up with England on Sunday after Nottinghamshire’s Championship game against Warwickshire at Edgbaston and act as cover for the top six.
Nottinghamshire batsman Haseeb Hameed has been called up into the England squad
Sam Billings has also been added to the England Test squad to face New Zealand next month
It caps a heart-warming comeback for Hameed, who looked like he would be a fixture at the top of the England order when he took to Test cricket like a duck to water on the 2016-17 tour of India.
But a badly broken finger that curtailed Hameed’s involvement in that series sparked a rapid decline in his form and fortunes that culminated with his first-class future in doubt after he was released by his native Lancashire.
Hameed, 24, has rebuilt his career under the tutelage of Peter Moores at Trent Bridge and has been in outstanding form this season, scoring 474 runs at an average of 52.66 in Notts’ rise to the top of Group One in this year’s conference Championship.
He may not play against New Zealand but his call-up now is irrefutable evidence that Hameed will add to those three Tests against India in which he showed such rich promise.
Foakes memorably made a debut century for England against Sri Lanka in Galle back in 2018