Injured Jones backing England
England will be forced to make a change for the first time in the series after Simon Jones lost his fitness battle and was ruled out of the Ashes decider.
Welshman Jones misses the fifth Test at The Oval, where only victory for Australia will deny England a first win in nine attempts in cricket’s oldest warfare, having taken 18 wickets in four appearances.
The 26-year-old was hopeful of overcoming the ankle injury which impaired him in the tense win over the Australians at Trent Bridge, which put Michael Vaughan’s men 2-1 ahead, but suffered discomfort when running this morning (Tuesday).
He will now rest for a fortnight in the hope that the bone spur eases sufficiently to avoid surgery, the course Andrew Flintoff took following a similar problem last winter and an outcome which would almost certainly rule him out of the tour of Pakistan.
“There was no chance. It is a sickening blow,” said Jones, after his light jog at Lord’s.
“I have had a few injuries in my career, you have to get over the disappointment. These things happen.
“I’m going to go home and chill a little bit and then I will come back to be with the boys and support them.”
Jones has only managed 18 Test appearances in three years, with almost half that period spent recovering from the knee ligament injury incurred in Brisbane at the start of the 2002-03 Ashes.
Since returning from that career-threatening problem, the Glamorgan paceman has become an integral part of England’s pace quartet and his displays in Manchester and Nottingham have arguably been his best in the international arena.
England’s management are hopeful rest will be the best cure and ensure Jones’ ability to reverse swing the ball will be available in the three-Test series in Pakistan.
“Surgery is an option, but the advice we have received from two leading specialists in the field is that the injury may still settle without recourse to an operation,” said the England and Wales Cricket Board’s chief medical officer Dr Peter Gregory.
Vice-captain Marcus Trescothick admits the absence of Jones, whose victims have come at 21 runs apiece, will be significant, suggesting he is at the peak of his powers.
“It’s a little bit sad,” Trescothick said. “Simon has been a great performer so far in this series - the two five-fors he took have been really important to making waves and bowling them out.
“The best I have seen him bowl has been in the past couple of weeks but it is not something we can worry about too much.
“To lose a major player in your team, who has done so well, is obviously disappointing but it gives someone else an opportunity to come in and play in a series like this.”
Either all-rounder Paul Collingwood or James Anderson, the Lancashire fast bowler, will come in for England’s biggest match for a quarter of a century, with the decision unlikely to come until Thursday morning.
“The guys are bubbling with the air of the whole thing, it is an exciting time for us,” added Trescothick.
“Every moment of every day so far has been very tense: it has been like three days in one, it has been that full on.
“It is exciting, great things lie ahead if we were to win this game. We can’t get drawn into what is going to happen, we have to focus on what we have to do in this game. If we do get carried away I fear what would happen.
“The reason we are in this position is because we have played in a certain fashion.
“It is important to keep doing that otherwise we will get drawn into a negative mindset.”