DURHAM all-rounder Ian Blackwell has been ruled out for six to eight months after a third shoulder operation in four years.
The former England one-day international could miss half the county season, and may be struggling to play for Durham again. Blackwell’s contract expires at the end of the 2013 campaign, leaving him little opportunity to play his way back into the county’s plans.
His only involvement after May was a First-Class friendly against Australia A as Durham expressed concern over his fitness. His shoulder was part of the problem, but they were also unhappy with his general conditioning.
Even career-best bowling figures of 7-52 against Australia A were not enough to get the slow left-armer back into Paul Collingwood’s plans. He was instead loaned to Warwickshire, who he helped to the County Championship title. But with the Bears announcing yesterday they have re-signed Jeethan Patel – who Blackwell deputised for – as their overseas player, they would have no need for the 34-year-old even if he were fully fit.
Blackwell has twice had surgery to repair torn a torn superspinatus – once at Durham, and once at Somerset.
He had two injections in the shoulder last summer, but has been able to avoid surgery. Blackwell tweeted the damage the surgeons found included “rotator cuff tear, cartilage damage, subchromial decompression etc”, and he has been told not to expect to play for six to eight months.
The news will be of concern to coach Geoff Cook, who this week highlighted the importance of a strong start to the 2013 season after the complete opposite last term.
“Getting off to a good start is vital,” he said. “What we don’t want is to be playing catch-up.”
Durham lost their first ten 2012 Championship games. The news leaves Scott Borthwick as Durham’s No.1 spinner and he showed what he is capable of yesterday by bowling the England Performance Programme to an innings-and-193-run victory over a DY Patil Academy XI.
The leg-spinner took 6-38 as the hosts were bowled out for 87. Steven Finn took four wickets on day one, and will join the senior squad for the third Test.
Stuart Meaker – who took 3-8 yesterday – will stay with the EPP having previously been called up as cover for Finn.