Craig Overton admits it may be “tough” for him to be fit in time for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
Overton has earned many admirers for his bravery in his first two Tests, but has suffered a hairline rib fracture for his trouble.
The 23-year-old was first in the wars when he took a blow to his chest on debut in Adelaide from a delivery from fast bowler Pat Cummins which missed the protective guard he was wearing.
Overton was nonetheless declared fit for the third Test in Perth, where England lost by an innings and Australia regained the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead.
It was there that the Somerset seamer took an unfortunate tumble, diving to his left to try to pull off a spectacular caught-and-bowled, before a subsequent scan which revealed the extent of his injury.
Asked if he will recover in time to face Australia again at the MCG next Tuesday, he hinted that it may be a push – with the new year Test in Sydney perhaps more realistic.
“We’re not sure at the moment,” said Overton. “It will be reassessed in the next couple of days, and go from there.
“At the minute, there’s quite a lot of swelling around the ribs. If that settles down quickly, who knows? Melbourne might be tough, but there will still be a chance for Sydney as well.”
Overton may still have to be talked out of his next Test cap for his own good, because he prides himself on putting his 6ft 5in body on the line.
“The way I am as a character, it’s fighting through that pain and trying to carry on as long as possible,” he said, reflecting on the 24 overs he got through while Australia were piling up a record 662 for nine declared at the WACA.
“It was still sore at the time and it wasn’t easy to bowl those overs, but I hope it helped the boys out a little bit.”
He had already hurt himself before the majority of them.
“We weren’t too worried about (the injury) in the build-up to (Perth). I was fine in the nets … no scan, nothing before the game,” he said.
“Obviously there was a bit of bruising there, but that was about it really.
“It was just going for that caught-and-bowled off Ussie Khawaja, landed on the same spot, and the bruising made it worse.
“Then going for that bumper to Khawaja again, it sort of went then – and that’s when the pain really started. It’s across the front. So when you press it, it’s quite sore.”
Australia’s pace attack did not spare him, of course, when he came in to bat at number nine as England tried to save the match in the second innings.
“Obviously, they knew I’d damaged the ribs, so they were going to (target it) as much as possible.
“Ducking was what was causing the most pain – so I tried to do that as little as possible.
“But obviously there are balls you’ve got to do that to. It was just batting through the pain really.”