Ballance faces X-ray after sustaining blow to left index finger

Gary Ballance fell shortly after lunch AFP

Gary Ballance is to have an X-ray on his left index finger after sustaining a blow on it when batting on the fourth day of the Trent Bridge Test.

Ballance was hit by a delivery from Morne Morkel as England slid to a 340-run defeat at the hands of South Africa. It is, in terms of runs, the second-largest defeat South Africa have inflicted upon England.

Any break would render Ballance a severe doubt for the third Investec Test which starts at The Oval on July 27.

With only 85 runs in the series at an average of 21.15, Ballance has not made a compelling case for his continued selection. While recent policy would suggest the selectors would allow him until the end of the series to prove himself, it is not impossible they could be swayed by any injury doubt.

Mark Wood's bruised left heel will also be monitored over the coming days, with an England spokesman suggesting "he might have a scan" if it was deemed necessary. Wood returned to Test cricket at Lord's for the first time since October 2015 and has undergone three bouts of surgery on his left ankle.

The England selectors are expected to meet over the next couple of days to name their squad for the third Test.

Speaking after the game, England's new captain Joe Root kept his options open in terms of selection, but hinted that he favoured no dramatic changes.

"We will sit down over the next couple of days," he said. "The top six are talented players and they will be desperate to make their chances count when they come along."

"It's important at The Oval we try to get off to a really strong start especially in the first innings and those guys are more than capable of doing it. The way they've gone about things in practice and the runs they've scored in county cricket have been outstanding and now it's just about doing it in international cricket."