Warwickshire’s injury-plagued England fast bowler Olly Stone has been ruled out for four to six weeks after breaking a finger while trying to regain match fitness on Second XI duty.
Stone, who has made just 18 red-ball Bears appearances since arriving from Northants in 2017, has suffered from a persistent back problem.
The injury even made him contemplate retiring from international cricket.
Bears coach Mark Robinson described his latest setback as “heartbreaking”.
Already without two fellow injury absentees, England all-rounder Chris Woakes and last summer’s top Championship wicket-taker Liam Norwell, Robinson has been building up Stone’s fitness with bowling coach Matt Mason – and sent him off to play for the Bears Seconds in Nottingham this week.
But Robinson told BBC Radio WM: “It looks like he’ll be out for four to six weeks and that’s heartbreaking for a bloke who has already had all the injuries he’s had and all he’s been though.
“We’ve had Chris Woakes on the verge of a comeback two or three times and he’s still no nearer playing for us. And Liam Norwell has now played a twos game which is great for him.
“To get him in a place where we can feel we can risk him against Surrey at The Oval next week is a different issue as he felt a bit rusty, although he came though unscathed.
“But Olly Stone is our biggest frustration as he did the T20s really well.
“We work in partnership with England, given all his injury history. We felt there was a need to get volume into him to protect him when he goes back and we had him out there in the middle bowling rockets every lunchtime with Matt Mason for four days in our game at Northampton last week. But fate always plays a card and he got that injury.”
Stone’s contract is up at the end of the season, and Robinson avoided a question about reported interest from Nottinghamshire amid rumours that he has rejected the offer of a reduced deal at Edgbaston and therefore become a target for other counties
One plus for Warwickshire was last season’s top run scorer Rob Yates finding some form – and putting himself in line for a possible recall by the weakened reigning champions for Monday’s meeting with leaders Surrey.
“Yates has been short of runs so we thought it was in his best interest to get some confidence back and he’s made some ruins this week.
“Our batting group has been under pressure all year because we haven’t been able to get 20 wickets due to the absentee of personnel.
“Most of the time the batters have got us out of jail but in the last couple of games, with the quality of the opposition, they haven’t been able to repel it.”
Warwickshire first-team coach Mark Robinson was talking to BBC Radio WM’s Mike Taylor.