Stokes, Prior return imminent

England

England continued to wait on the fitness of all-rounder Ben Stokes and wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior this week, as an important two-Test series against Sri Lanka neared.

England continued to wait on the fitness of all-rounder Ben Stokes and wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior this week, as an important two-Test series against Sri Lanka neared.

Stokes is nursing a fractured wrist sustained during the tour of the West Indies earlier this year, while Prior has been sidelined by a foot injury.

While neither were in contention for the one-off Twenty20 International and five ODIs against the sub-continental big guns this month, both are chasing selection for the Tests at Lord's and Headingley in June.

"Ben is on the road to recovery," said chief selector James Whitaker. "He had a positive scan, so it's slowly, slowly at the moment – more pressure each day and monitor it over the next week or two.

"But he will be being reintroduced to cricket over the next 10 or so days – very gentle, netting, perhaps an academy game. He's one we have to take good care of in the future.

"Matt's going to play on 26 May. He decided rather than come back sooner and just batting, let's try and clear it up so that when he does come back he can keep and bat at the same time."

A long-term replacement for the recently retired Graeme Swann, meanwhile, is in the balance. Swann quit international cricket late last year, leaving left-armer Monty Panesar at the fore of the spin-bowling attack in a historic five-nil series whitewash to the Australians.

Leg-spinner Scott Borthwick, Kent's James Tredwell, Lancashire's Simon Kerrigan and the uncapped Danny Briggs and Stephen Parry, meanwhile, remain on the outskirts of selection.

"Since Graeme has called it a day, it's an area of some concern. It's a very open book – and how that place gets filled will be dependent on the balance of the team, conditions on the day, so to pin our hopes on one specific area wouldn't be right to say at this stage," concluded Whitaker.

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