England’s Magellan Ashes campaign has suffered another blow after the tourists today confirmed key allrounder Moeen Ali and fast bowler Steven Finn will miss the opening two matches through injury.
It means the two players will be desperately short of match practice in Australian conditions ahead of the first Test in Brisbane that starts in 20 days’ time.
“Scans have revealed that Steven Finn (left knee) and Moeen Ali (left side) will miss England's first two warm-up matches of their tour of Australia,” read an England and Wales Cricket Board statement on Friday.
“The Middlesex seamer, Finn, will be monitored by the England medical department over the next seven days and a further decision on his fitness will be made at that time.
“He sustained the injury during practice at Richardson Park, Perth on Thursday November 2 and sat out training today at the WACA.
“Allrounder Ali has aggravated his left side. He will miss the first two tour matches against the WA XI starting tomorrow (Saturday) at the WACA, Perth and the four-day match against CA XI at the Adelaide Oval commencing on Wednesday November 8.
“He is expected to return to full training by mid-November ahead of the tour match in Townsville starting on Wednesday November 15.”
Finn was only added to England's Ashes touring party following the indefinite suspension of Test vice-captain Ben Stokes following his alleged involved in a wild street brawl in the early hours after an England limited-overs match.
Moeen has played 44 Tests for England and looms as a key player in the middle order. He averages 34.66 with the bat, with five Test centuries and 12 fifites to his name, and also has 128 Test wickets at 37.32.
Meanwhile, 30-year-old late bloomer Mark Stoneman hopes he is the answer to England's revolving door problem at the top of the order.
Alastair Cook has had 12 opening partners since Andrew Strauss' 2012 retirement, with Stoneman being the most recent.
Stoneman, who debuted during in August's three-Test series against the West Indies, is again set to partner Cook at the top of the order for the Ashes opener, starting on November 23 in Brisbane.
He said being picked for the Ashes was the pinnacle for him in Test cricket, and would prove to be his toughest challenge.
"I think I've got a natural flow to my game, and I'm always looking to score," Stoneman said.
"Hopefully, that can take pressure off Cookie if I'm playing well.
"I don't think it rests just on myself and Cookie at the top of the order but, generally, the momentum will start there."
Stoneman paid tribute to former Australian batsman Michael Di Venuto for helping him to propel his career into the Test arena.
The pair formed a close relationship while playing together at English county side Durham.
Stoneman switched to Surrey in 2016 after Di Venuto was appointed head coach there.
"He's been a fantastic mentor for me," Stoneman said.
"He doesn't complicate the game too much. He's definitely taken my game forward."
Stoneman, whose wife is Australian, spent six seasons playing grade cricket in Sydney, giving him good experience of the conditions he can expect this summer.
2017-18 International Fixtures
Magellan Ashes Series
First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets
Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets
ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets
Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets
T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy 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