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November 3, 2012
Stuart Meaker has been drafted into the England squad as cover for the injured Steven Finn. Meaker, the 23-year-old Surrey fast bowler, will fly to India on Saturday and is expected to play in the final warm-up game before the first Test, subject to obtaining a visa.
Finn suffered a thigh strain in the opening overs of the first game of the tour against India A. While England are yet to announce the results of the subsequent scans, the call-up of Meaker suggests Finn is most unlikely to be fit for the first Test in Ahmedabad on November 15. Graham Onions replaced Finn in the side for the second warm-up game, against Mumbai A, but England have now concluded they require reinforcement.
It is understood England are keen to rest Stuart Broad for the final warm-up game, against Haryana at Ahmadabad from November 8, before the Test. Broad also missed the first warm-up game, which raises questions about his match fitness.
While Meaker, whose international experience is limited to just two ODIs, does not possess the height of Finn, he does bowl at a similar pace. He remains the fastest bowler recorded at England's National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough.
Meaker's South African background - he was born in Pietermaritzburg - will revive claims that England are reliant on imported talent, but his family moved to England when he was just 12 and he has progressed through the Surrey system. He was Surrey's leading wicket-taker in the 2012 Championship season - he claimed 44 wickets at 22.56 apiece in 10 games with a strike-rate of a wicket every 38.7 deliveries - and has the ability to swing the new and old ball both ways.
Quite how match fit he is at present remains to be seen. He has been resting since the end of the English domestic season over a month ago and only returned to fitness training at Lord's in the last few days.
Whatever happens to Finn, Meaker will remain in India until meeting up with other members of the England Performance Programme squad who leave the UK on November 19.
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