Jake Ball ruled out of Hundred by injury, Welsh Fire call up Luke Fletcher
Seamer suffers back problem after playing role in Fire's opening two victories
Welsh Fire's availability issues in the men's Hundred have been compounded with Jake Ball ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a back injury.
Fire were already without Liam Plunkett (injured), Lungi Ngidi (personal reasons) and Jonny Bairstow (Test duty), and will now have to cope without their main death bowler for the rest of the competition.
Ball limped off with an injury during Fire's defeat against Manchester Originals on Saturday after bowling only 10 balls, and missed their loss against Oval Invincibles on Monday following a scan. He has now been replaced by his Nottinghamshire team-mate Luke Fletcher in the squad, who will be available for selection against Trent Rockets on Friday.
Ball has suffered badly from back injuries over the last three years, and has been limited to four first-class appearances since the start of the 2019 season. He was the leading wicket-taker in last summer's Vitality Blast and has been in several England squads in the last year.
Fletcher was a £30,000 pick by Trent Rockets in the October 2019 draft, but was released ahead of the 2021 re-draft after making only four appearances in the Blast last summer. He took 12 wickets in 12 games for Notts this year, and while he was expensive in the Powerplay and the middle overs, he conceded just 120 runs from his 16 overs at the death.
Fire started the men's competition with back-to-back wins but have lost both of the two games they have played since Bairstow's departure to link up with the England squad at Trent Bridge. Ben Duckett, their stand-in captain, said after their defeat at The Oval: "It's not ideal and if you lose big names it's obviously going to hurt you, but we believe we've got the squad to come in and cover for that."
Fire have already brought in Matt Milnes - who dismissed Jason Roy with his first ball in the Hundred on Monday night - and Graeme White to cover for their absentees, while Jimmy Neesham's contract has been extended.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98