Chris Woakes is to undergo a knee operation on Thursday in an attempt to resuscitate his chances of appearing at the Twenty20 World Cup, which starts in October.
He was one of two players – and the only bowler – to be in the England squad for the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates as well as the Ashes in Australia from November to January and a Test tour of the Caribbean.
Woakes returned from the West Indies in March with injuries to his shoulder and his knee and has since reported a minor problem with an ankle. He has played one second XI match this summer.
He was initially told to take “a bit of a break”, but doctors now suspect there is a problem with the cartilage of his left knee that will require surgery. Recovery if the operation is successful is expected to take between four and six weeks, leaving him with a race against time if he is to prove his fitness before the seven T20s England have scheduled in Pakistan in September as part of their World Cup preparations.
It is the second time in less than a week an England seamer has felt forced to undergo surgery in an attempt to win a place on the plane to Australia after Mark Wood – who had an operation on his right elbow in March – had a second procedure on the same joint last weekend.
Four other England bowlers – Jofra Archer, Olly Stone, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Fisher – are recovering from stress fractures to the back, while this week Ollie Robinson is playing his first game in more than two months, for Sussex against Nottinghamshire in the County Championship.
Having rested since his return from the West Indies, Woakes reported in early June that he had “turned a corner”. At the time he said: “I’ve got the ball back in my hand, albeit some very light bowling sessions, but I feel like competitive cricket isn’t too far away.”
He played at the end of that month for Warwickshire’s second XI in a four-day game against Worcestershire’s second XI, but after bowling nine overs was withdrawn with discomfort to his knee, did not bat or bowl in the second innings, and has not played a competitive game since.