So thatâ€™s probably it for Freddie, then. Whatever drivel the ECB can try and spin about his ankle needing time â€œto settle and recover before the process of further strengthening and assessment is intensifiedâ€ â€“ medico-speak for â€œheâ€™s done it in againâ€ â€“ itâ€™s probably safe to assume that a man on the wrong side of 30 who has played just one of his teamâ€™s last four Test series isnâ€™t really one for the future. Itâ€™s time to look beyond.
Probably most likely to step into the breach in the short-term is Ravi Bopara. But heâ€™s untried at Test level and despite knocking Mike Hussey over on his ODI debut, itâ€™s hard to imagine him knocking over Test sides with his gentle trundlers off a short run. Similarly Paul Collingwood, who encouragingly hasnâ€™t let snaffling Sourav Ganguly on a lucky LBW shout go to his head.
So letâ€™s look to the current crop of youngsters. Thereâ€™s Adil Rashid, who scored his first Championship century this season, and team-mate Tim Bresnan, who has fought back well from being Jayasuriyaâ€™s bitch last summer. Younger still, thereâ€™s Alex Wakely at Northants and James Harris at Glamorgan. For some of these it looks like the next Ashes in 2009 will come a bit soon (Harris was born in 1990, for heavenâ€™s sake), while none of them really looks like a potential Test number six. But then again, nor does Freddie at the moment.
Who does everyone think will end up filling Fredâ€™s specially-modified boots? A batsman? A bowler? Or is it time David Graveney got Mark Ealham back on the phone?