England news June 18, 2018

Chris Woakes ruled out of Australia ODIs with knee problem

Chris Woakes made inroads on his return to the Test side © Getty Images

England have confirmed that Chris Woakes will take no part in the limited-overs series against Australia as he deals with a "chronic" knee injury. Ben Stokes is also not expected to play in the three remaining ODIs but could return in next month's T20 series with India.

Woakes sustained a tear in his right quad during the second Test against Pakistan in Leeds, but a statement released by the England management now suggests it was caused in part by "a flare-up of a chronic right knee problem". He was given an injection in the knee a week ago and has begun a rehabilitation and conditioning programme.

England are putting no date on his return to action, but he will not feature in any of the games against Australia or the T20s against India. He will be reassessed ahead of the ODI series against India that starts on July 12.

"I'm aiming for the India ODIs and fingers crossed I can play some cricket before then so I'm ready," Woakes said. "Whether it's for Warwickshire or England I'm not sure. The word chronic makes it look like it's drastic but the knee is not something I'm worried about."

Woakes' absence has been felt keenly by England in recent days. As their top-ranked ODI bowler, and easily most impressive white-ball seamer in Australia and New Zealand, he has the responsibility for bowling at the start and end of the innings; areas that have been exposed a little in the defeat against Scotland and, at times, during the victory over Australia in Cardiff.

Woakes missed almost the entire Champions Trophy in 2017 after sustaining a side strain during the opening moments of the game against Bangladesh. He has managed the knee problem for several years, having had surgery in 2015.

"I've had the same problem for about eight or nine years and it's been niggling away at me but I've got on with it and put up with the odd niggle because it's not the sort of thing that will get better overnight," he said.

"With the quad injury it was a good time to get a jab in there and settle it down. I don't know what the definition of chronic is but it doesn't really stop me from playing cricket. It just flares up and during Headingley it felt sore but compared to a couple of weeks ago it feels like a million dollars."

There may also be some concern at Warwickshire. The county felt that Woakes required more bowling before returning to Test cricket following his spell in the IPL. To go from bowling a maximum of four overs to bowling in a Test, they felt, required more time and conditioning work. It will have been noted that both England seamers who went from the IPL to the Test team - Woakes and Stokes - without a warm-up match sustained injuries.

With the World Cup looming as England's priority for next year, Woakes suggested he would consider whether managing his fitness might mean missing out on the IPL.

"IPL is a great thing for players to have the opportunities to improve themselves, at the same time as earning a hell of a lot of money, but I think next year will be tricky," he said. "If I don't get retained that's when I will have to ask myself whether it's worth going in the auction again, with such a big summer ahead. It's something I'll know nearer the time, especially going into what could be the biggest summer of my career. You want to make sure you're in tip-top condition for a home World Cup."

There is better news of both Stokes and Eoin Morgan. Morgan, who missed Saturday's game in Cardiff due to a back spasm, took part in training at Trent Bridge on Monday morning and hopes to play in the third ODI against Australia on Tuesday, while Stokes is said to be "progressing well" after sustaining a torn left hamstring a couple of weeks ago. His batting is unrestricted and he is able to run at 90% capacity so will begin a "return-to-bowling programme" this week.

Stokes will be with the squad for the fourth and fifth ODIs in the hope that he is fit to play in the T20s against India in July.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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