England breathe sigh of relief on Bairstow

Nov 15, 2017

Some of England's worst fears have been alleviated with wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow escaping largely unscathed from a finger blow just a week out from the first Ashes Test.

Bairstow took a delivery on the bounce from paceman Chris Woakes in their tour match against a Cricket Australia XI in Townsville, and immediately showed signs of pain.

After kicking at the ground and wringing his left hand in pain, he was attended to by English medical staff after the next ball for a lengthy period and taken from the field.

However, he returned about an hour later with strapping on his middle finger, adding to bandaging already on the little finger.

England officials insisted the problem was only a bruise and the 28-year-old had not suffered a dislocation, while teammates downplayed the situation at stumps.

"I don't think we were ever too worried," Woakes said.

"The guys didn't seem overly worried about (it) which was good. The fact he came back out at the end of the day means that, fingers crossed, he's okay."

England's back-up wicketkeeper Ben Foakes took the gloves in Bairstow's absence.

The 24-year-old Foakes is yet to play international cricket.

Bairstow's position in the team adds crucial balance to England's batting line-up, given he has averaged 39.77 in 45 Tests since debuting in 2012.

The blow threatened to add to a horror opening fortnight for England, who had already lost paceman Steve Finn for the tour due to a knee injury. Fellow quick Jake Ball (ankle) is racing the clock to be fit for the Gabba Test.

It's also unclear whether Ben Stokes will join the group amid the ongoing the investigation into an alleged brawl in September in a Bristol street.

In better news for England, opening bowler James Anderson returned to training on Wednesday after missing practice on Tuesday through illness.

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