England's offspinner Graeme Swann has been rested from the final two fixtures in the NatWest Series to enable him to overcome discomfort in his right elbow ahead of the Test series against South Africa, which begins at The Oval in a fortnight.
Swann has had to manage a niggling elbow problem for some time, but it is not thought to be serious enough to put his involvement against South Africa at risk in the showpiece series of the summer.
Warwickshire's allrounder Chris Woakes and Kent offspinner James Tredwell have been added to the squad for the remaining two matches against Australia. Woakes has been added to and removed from the squad so often that it will be an achievement if he manages to turn up at the right ground.
Geoff Miller, the national selector, said: "We had earmarked the fourth and fifth matches in this series as an opportunity to rest Graeme regardless of the result at Edgbaston as we have to consider our preparations for the Investec Test series later this month. Graeme has some pain in his elbow at the moment and we feel that an extra week's rest will allow his elbow to settle."
Heavy rain is forecast for Chester-le-Street on Friday afternoon, and there is no sign of settled weather ahead, bringing the fear of further disruption after the third ODI at Edgbaston was washed out without a ball being bowled.
England have made some gesture towards the worsening financial plight of the counties, as the FLt20 tournament has been largely lost without trace thanks to abysmal weather and the usual clash with international fixtures.
Samit Patel has been released to play for Nottinghamshire against Yorkshire on Thursday and Jonny Bairstow will be available for that fixture, as well as Yorkshire's Roses clash against Lancashire at Old Trafford. Both players will return to the squad ahead of the fourth ODI on Saturday.