SYDNEY: Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins will miss most of the rest of the season with a back injury, Cricket Australia said on Friday.
The 19-year-old is one of the most exciting talents in Australian cricket and it had been hoped he might be in contention for selection for the third Test against South Africa later this month.
“Pat Cummins returned from Champions League Twenty20 duties with the Sydney Sixers with some back soreness,” team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said in a news release.
“Because of his age and past history we decided to investigate the source of the pain and unfortunately he has an early stage stress fracture of his spine, confirmed by scans today.
“Pat had a spine bone stress injury a few years ago but the current injury is new and in an entirely different part of the spine.
“We expect he will recover fully from this injury and will be closely monitored to determine his return to the playing field, but expect that he will miss most of the 2012-13 domestic cricket season.”
Sections of the Australian press blamed the overload of Twenty20 cricket for Cummins' latest injury.
"Twenty20 cricket has claimed at least one victim from the Australian team, with Pat Cummins ruled out of the first two Tests against South Africa because of its distractions," said The Australian.
Australia's bowling great Glenn McGrath said he felt sorry for Cummins but advised the team to develop a 'squad mentality' to ensure its players are as fit as possible.
He endorsed Cricket Australia’s controversial rotation policy, particularly with young bowlers.
Cummins burst onto the international scene in sensational fashion by taking seven wickets on his debut to help Australia beat the Proteas in South Africa last year.
That remains his only Test outing, however, and his appearances in other formats have also been restricted by what looks to be a worrying fragility in his physique.
The fast bowler said he was already scheduled to visit the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) to get his action examined.
“We were talking about going down to the AIS, we were already booked in to have a look at my action while we had time,” Cummins told reporters.
“We'd been planning to do it for a while, just to see what it came up with.
“One thing I noticed was I might've been falling away a bit more than say a year ago. When I'm bowling with a red ball I try to swing it and when I'm swinging the ball everything's going well.
“But when you're bowling cross seamers with a white ball you kind of fall into bad habits maybe.”
Cummins said he was keen to return in the thick of things to win the Ashes back for Australia.
“... looking forward if it's not the end of this summer hopefully the Champions Trophy in England and obviously the Ashes is a major goal,” he said.
“Certainly not ruled that out yet, hopefully I'll be right for them.”
There was more bad news for the Australians on Friday when former captain Ricky Ponting, the second most prolific run scorer in test cricket, was pulled out of a Sheffield Shield match in Hobart because of a sore hamstring.
Australia team official Pat Howard said Ponting, who has been named in the 12-man squad for next week's first test against South Africa in Brisbane, had been withdrawn as a precaution.
“If this wasn't a week out from the first test then Ricky would continue with the match,” he said.
“But we don't want to take that risk. We expect Ricky to be fit for the first test against South Africa.”