England opener Alex Hales will miss the remainder of England’s limited-overs tour of India with a broken right hand and is also touch and go for next month’s trip to the West Indies.
Hales suffered the injury diving for an attempted catch in Thursday’s 15-run defeat in Cuttack, jarring his hand awkwardly as he landed.
The 28-year-old opener was wearing a sling on the team flight to Kolkata and headed straight for an X-ray on arrival which confirmed he had no chance of making tomorrow’s final one-day international at Eden Gardens or the subsequent Twenty20 series.
Sam Billings is likely to step in at opener in the third ODI, as he did when scoring 62 in Chittagong three months ago, while Jonny Bairstow could be asked to stay on for the T20s.
The Test wicketkeeper was not due to be part of the short-form series but there is a now a vacancy for another batsmen in the group.
Hales will meet a surgeon next week to assess whether an operation is necessary but is thought to be facing a lay-off of around five to six weeks.
That would make him a doubt for the three one-day games in the Caribbean, which begins with a warm-up match in St Kitts on February 25 and forms a key part of England’s Champions Trophy preparations.
Should Hales not make the West Indies fixtures he will have only two one-day internationals against Ireland in early May to get in form for the high-profile tournament on home soil.
On a separate note, the injury may also affect Hales’s intentions to enter the Indian Premier League auction next month, not to mention his attractiveness to the franchises.
A short statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board read: “Opening batsman Alex Hales will miss the remainder of England’s tour of India after scans revealed that he fractured his right hand during the second one-day international against India on Thursday in Cuttack.
“He will return to England on Saturday and will see a hand surgeon next week.
“England will announce Hales’ replacement in the IT20 squad for the three-match series against India, starting on January 26, in due course.”
Hales’s early exit ends a winter programme he would probably rather forget in its entirety.
He was one of just two players, alongside limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, to opt out of the tour of Bangladesh on safety grounds and he also lost his place in the Test squad for the five-match series in India before Christmas. After arriving with the white-ball players at the start of this month, things did not go to plan either.
Hales made scores of nine and 14 in two 50-over matches where the lowest team score in four innings has been 350 and there have been five centurions.
England have been fined by the International Cricket Council for a slow over-rate during their defeat in Cuttack.
Morgan pleaded guilty to the offence after his side were found to be one over short of their target and he was fined 20 per cent of his match fee.
The remainder of the team also received 10 per cent fines.
Morgan admitted Stuart Broad could play a role in the Champions Trophy after another bruising outing for England’s one-day bowlers in India.
The tourists have played a full part in two thrilling matches in Pune and Cuttack but fallen short in both.
They were unable to defend 350 in the opener and then fell 15 short of India’s daunting 381 at Barabati Stadium. There are mitigating factors aplenty, from flat pitches, short boundaries and the classy contributions of centurions Virat Kohli, Kedar Jadhav, Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni – but no attack that concedes so heavily can consider itself impenetrable.
And Morgan confirmed Broad, a fixture of the Test side but only seen twice with a white ball since the 2015 World Cup, is an increasingly interesting option as minds turn to the eight-team tournament on home soil this summer.
Broad has been impressing for Hobart Hurricanes in this year’s Big Bash competition in Australia, a stint which could yet twist the selectors’ arms.
“Stuart’s always in our thoughts,” said Morgan. “He hasn’t played since the South Africa tour last year but I thought he charged in at the Big Bash.
“I’ve watched all his games and he’s working on his variations. It’s very difficult for him to go straight from Test cricket to playing in the Big Bash but he’s made a fist of it, so credit to him.”