Cricket
George Dobell in Adelaide 13d

Garton called up as cover for England warm-up

The Ashes 2017-18, ENG tour of AUS and NZ 2017-18, Cricket

England have called George Garton into their Ashes squad as injuries continued to bite deep into their resources.

Garton, a 20-year-old with only nine first-class games behind him, will join up with the squad ahead of next week's warm-up game in Townsville. Left-arm and fast, Garton had impressed the team management with his pace in net sessions over recent months, but his elevation to the Test squad is as much a reflection of England's dire injury situation as his potential.

Garton joins the tour party as cover for Jake Ball. Ball's right ankle buckled under him in delivery stride in Adelaide a couple of days ago and he has now been diagnosed with a ligament strain. The injury is not thought likely to be tour-ending, but it does render him a doubt for the final warm-up game in Townsville and the first Test in Brisbane, which starts on November 23.

With England keen not to over-bowl any of their main seamers ahead of that first Test, Garton will add depth to the squad in Townsville. He is expected to join the Lions tour - which arrives in Australia next week - once Ball recovers.

While Garton's career record is modest - he has taken just 23 first-class wickets with a best of 3 for 20 and an average of 36.47 - his slingy pace renders him a player of huge potential.

He will not need much time to acclimatise, having spent October in Melbourne with his Australian partner Liz, who he met a year ago when she was travelling around Europe and has since kept up a long-term relationship. Sussex's former Australian all-rounder Tony Dodemaide also gave him a chance to bowl in the nets at the MCG against Victoria's back-up players.

He then returned briefly to England to team up with England Lions preparations at the national performance centre in Loughborough before preparing to make the 11,000-mile journey once more.

"It was a great experience to get on Australian wickets for the first time and let the Aussies have it a bit," he said in Loughborough. "I managed to get it down there and let them sniff a few. There's no better feeling than hurling it down there as quick as you can and seeing the poles go everywhere, or making the batsmen feel uncomfortable."

The news sustains an unsettled start to England's tour. Losing Ben Stokes and Toby Roland-Jones before departing the UK, they then saw Steven Finn fly home after he sustained a knee injury while batting in the nets in Perth, while Moeen Ali, their senior spinner, has yet to play on tour after suffering a side strain. Tom Curran joined up with the squad on Friday as cover for Finn.

Mark Wood (ankle) and Tom Helm (hamstring), who are also on the Lions tour, were not considered fit for selection by England. Jamie Porter, the top wicket-taker in Division One in 2017, has also been diagnosed with a stress fracture recently.

Liam Plunkett, who is currently in action in the BPL, was also considered. But bearing in mind the anticipated short stay Garton will have with the England squad - he is expected to be with them for about a week - the England management took the decision to allow Plunkett to remain in Bangladesh. He could still be called-up if another bowler sustains an injury.

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