Injury to Michael Vaughan in Pakistan yesterday is likely to provide another chance for Warwickshire's Ian Bell to establish himself in the England Test team.
The England captain's chances of playing in the first Test match, which begins on Saturday, are rated as "slim". Indeed, there is considerable doubt as to whether he will be able to take any further part in the tour.
Vaughan collapsed against Pakistan A with pain in his right knee, arousing fears that he had aggravated a ligament problem that required surgery in 2002. The results of a scan will be known this morning but the initial prognosis was grim. The fact that he was merely attempting to run ? not turn or slide ? suggests the problem is unlikely to be trivial.
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England's chief medical officer Peter Gregory said: "We'll need 24 or 48 hours to see how he responds to the treatment and to take into account what we find on those scans.
"I'm hopeful ? but whether that is realistic or not we'll see. He has a history of cartilage damage, and it would be very likely this is that too. Usually with tears you would need an operation."
An operation would rule Vaughan out of the entire tour. Rob Key is first in line if England send for replacements, though Owais Shah and Edmund Joyce will also be considered. Marcus Trescothick will captain.
If, as expected, Vaughan is ruled out of the first Test, Bell is the man most likely to replace him. The 23-year-old Warwickshire batsman had looked destined for a frustrating tour on the sidelines after Paul Collingwood was preferred for the match against Pakistan A, puzzlingly partly because of his supposedly superior bowling.
A glance at the respective career records would suggest there is little to choose between the pair: Bell 41 first-class wickets at 32.26; Collingwood 98 at 38.8.
That decision was somewhat harsh but not unexpected. Bell only sometimes convinced during the Ashes series (averaging 17) and started this tour with three runs in two innings.
Bell's class will surely out in time but one hopes Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, handles his charge sensitively.
If Bell does play on Saturday he will be lacking match practice and acutely aware of his precarious position in the team. England's recent success been built upon a continuity of selection policy and one hopes the mistakes of previous regimes in handling talents such as Mark Ramprkash and Graeme Hick (both dropped and recalled time and time again) is not repeated. Bell's talent is too precious to risk.