England suffered a potentially game-changing injury scare in the final session of day two of the third Magellan Ashes Test when fast bowler Craig Overton left the field with a rib problem.
An ECB official said after play that Overton jarred one of his ribs attempting to take a return catch in the 14th over of Australia’s first innings.
The 23-year-old continued to bowl but pulled up clutching his left side midway through his 10th over. He completed the over to finish with figures of 2-46 before he left the field for 25 minutes.
He returned but did not bowl for the remainder of the evening session as Australia moved to 3-203 at stumps in Perth.
The right-armer, who made his Test debut in the preceding Ashes clash at Adelaide Oval, will not have a scan tonight and will be reassessed by the England team medial staff in the morning.
Should Overton be unable to bowl for the rest of the match it would be a significant setback for England, according to former Australia batsman Mike Hussey.
“I think it’s a big loss because earlier he bowled well,” Hussey said on Optus Sports’ Stumps program.
“And this pitch suits him; he’s tall, he can just get the ball up and seam it around and swing it a little bit.
“So, I think it’s a big loss for England if he can’t come back and bowl.”
It was an untimely blow for England as Overton was the most threatening bowler for the visitors.
The right-armer removed Australia vice-captain David Warner for 22 with a ball that nipped away and took the edge through to gloveman Jonny Bairstow.
Three balls later he put down a difficult return catch diving full-stretch to his left to gift Usman Khawaja a life on zero. The No.3 went on to make an even 50.
Warner’s opening partner Cameron Bancroft was Overton’s other victim. Initially given not out on field when hit flush on the front pad, Bancroft was out for 25 after England captain Joe Root successfully reviewed the decision.
"He bowled lovely, didn’t he?" England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow said after play.
"To get those couple of wickets he bowled really, really nicely.
"He’s a tough lad from Devon so I’m sure he’ll be alright."
Overton wore a Pat Cummins thunderbolt in his ribs while batting during the second Test in Adelaide.
While it’s unknown if that’s played any part in today’s injury, the loss of Overton to England’s attack is set to put extra pressure on fit seamers James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes.
"That’s one thing they do have, is they’re able to rotate their quicks because they’ve got Mooen Ali there and four quick options," former Australia medium-fast bowler Damien Fleming told Stumps.
"But if they’re left to three quicks and Moeen Ali, who let’s be honest has been rolling the ball and the only batsman he looks like threatening is Usman Khawaja who’s out, I reckon the Aussies will go after Moeen Ali with Overton out and then all of a sudden the three quicks are going to have to bowl a lot of overs."
2017-18 International Fixtures
Magellan Ashes Series
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.
England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard
Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets
Gillette ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets
Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21