Injured Ballance out of third Test

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Pint-sized TMS: South Africa sparkle as England crumble

England’s Gary Ballance has been ruled out of the third Test against South Africa at The Oval after fracturing his left index finger.

The Yorkshire batsman saw a surgeon in Leeds on Tuesday after being hit on the hand by a Morne Morkel bouncer in the heavy defeat at Trent Bridge.

The 27-year-old will continue to be monitored by England’s medical team and could be fit for the fourth Test at Old Trafford next month.

The third Test begins on 27 July.

Uncapped trio Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley and Dawid Malan are among names the England selectors could choose from to replace Ballance in the line-up.

Left-hander Ballance, batting at three, has struggled for runs in England’s opening two Tests of the summer.

He scored just 20 and 34 as England won the opening Test of the best-of-four series, and contributed a total of just 31 as the hosts succumbed to a 340-run defeat at Trent Bridge.

Ballance’s displays have courted some criticism, but he has been defended by former England captain Michael Vaughan, who believes he is batting out of position.

“He can have a Test career, but it should be at number five,” Vaughan told BBC Radio 5 live.

“They’re doing the lad a disservice. It’s unfair on a player who struggled the last time he was batting at number three.

“He goes back to Yorkshire and scores a barrel of runs at four and five, plays for the Lions at number four, then at the first Test he is thrown back in at three. It’s wrong.”

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