JOHANNESBURG: Steven Finn's tour looks to be over after he sustained a left side strain, dealing a disappointing blow for a bowler who had been enjoying a good series against South Africa.
Finn had a scan yesterday (Sunday) after complaining of pain in his side -during warm-ups before the second day of the third Test at the Wanderers. He is out of the fourth Test in Pretoria this week and is unlikely to be risked in the one-day series to follow, leaving him to concentrate on being fit again for the World Twenty20 in March.
"I'd be surprised if he plays the next Test, and depending on how bad it is, possibly the one-day series as well," Trevor Bayliss, the England head coach, said.
"I've been impressed with his bowling - in fact in the first couple of Tests, you'd probably say he was our best bowler. He was getting the ball through well, bowling in good areas, he was difficult to play."
Finn has enjoyed the bouncy South African pitches, taking 11 wickets at 26.09, and has looked back to his best after missing the series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates with a stress fracture in his foot. He was left out of the original squad for this tour but surprised the England medical staff with his recovery from that foot fracture.
There is a hope that he will experience a similarly speedy recovery this time but side strains, particularly on the left of the body, are notoriously difficult to heal for fast bowlers. James Anderson missed the final two Ashes Tests last summer with a similar injury and did not play again until England arrived in the UAE in October.
Chris Woakes, who deputised for Anderson in the first Test in Durban, is likely to take Finn's place this week although there may be a temptation to give the left-armer Mark Footitt a game with the series already in the bag.
However, Bayliss ruled out resting players and experimenting with the team when the fourth Test starts at Centurion on Friday.
"We want to win 3-0," the head coach said. "That's the challenge for these young blokes."
South Africa will be without Dale Steyn, who is spending two hours a day being treated in a hyperbaric chamber to help aid his recovery from a shoulder injury he sustained in the first Test. South Africa hope he will be fit for the one-day series.
The opening batsman Stiaan van Zyl is set to be dropped when the South Africa selectors meet tomorrow (Tuesday) to try to rebuild the team after losing the series.
Graham Smith, the former South Africa captain, believes the management team, led by head coach Russell Domingo, need to look at their role in the decline of the side.
"The players have to take responsibility for their performances, there's no doubt about that, but the management do too," Smith said. "They haven't quite come into the equation of late. The performances of the test team for the last year haven't been good enough, so you have to ask questions of everybody.
"The team seems a bit flat. Some of the messages coming out in the press conferences don't seem positive. You are in a big series and there is a lot of negativity among your senior players.
"It looks like someone needs to grab the bull by the horns and say, 'Listen guys, let's wake up and let's pull our finger out and let's go and play some Test cricket'."