Jos Buttler to return home with broken finger
England also have to deal with injuries to Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow ahead of the fifth Ashes Test
Jos Buttler is set to fly home from England's tour of Australia, after sustaining a broken finger that hampered his performance in the drawn fourth Test at Sydney.
Buttler suffered the injury while keeping on the second day at the SCG, and struggled to grip the bat while making a duck in England's first innings.
He was replaced behind the stumps by Ollie Pope, who equalled the record for a substitute fielder with four catches in Australia's second innings. Buttler fronted up for England's rearguard on the final day however, making 11 from 38 balls before being trapped lbw by Pat Cummins, armed with the new ball.
"Jos Buttler is going to be going home, it's quite a bad injury," Joe Root, England's captain, said at the post-match presentations. "It's a real disappointing shame for him and for the team. But it's part and parcel of playing Test cricket. Sometimes you've got to take these things, but the way he stood up throughout the rest of the game, having taken that, and put in for the boys is a testament to his character and how much he cares about playing for this team."
The injury nevertheless completes a desperate campaign for Buttler, who made 107 runs at 15.28 across the four Tests, with his most significant contribution being an innings of 26 from 207 balls in England's failed attempt to save the second Test at Adelaide.
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In addition to his poor form with the bat, Buttler endured an erratic series behind the stumps, with a number of crucial dropped catches, in particular off Australia's centurion Marnus Labuschagne in that Adelaide Test.
The ECB confirmed that Buttler will fly back to the UK on Monday and will be assessed on his return by the ECB Medical Team. A further update is expected later this week on his rehabilitation period.
With Jonny Bairstow nursing an impact injury to his right thumb, albeit he was able to bat for a further two-and-a-half hours in the second innings at Sydney, Buttler looks set to be replaced behind the stumps at Hobart by Sam Billings, who completed a nine-hour drive from Brisbane on Saturday, from where he had been set to fly back to the UK to prepare for England's white-ball tour of the Caribbean later this month. Billings has returned one negative PCR test after beginning his isolation period in Sydney, and will link up with the main squad subject to a secondary negative test this week.
Meanwhile Ben Stokes, who sustained a left side strain while bowling on the second day, also battled through the pain to produce his second half-century of the match. Root could not yet confirm whether he or Bairstow will be involved in Hobart, with both players set for further assessment in the coming days, but he was proud of the character that England's walking wounded showed.
"A lot of the guys could see a number of players hurting physically and still putting in a huge amount, and in many ways it lifted the rest of the group," Root said. "I'm really proud of the way that they stood up at times, clearly in a lot of pain to produce for England.
"There was clearly a bit of pain relief required. It's not just that, but also the psychological element. For them to perform the way they did shows a huge amount of character."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket