Melbourne: In yet another setback for an Australian Test squad depleted by injuries, backup wicketkeeper Tim Paine is expected to be sidelined for a further four months after surgery on his finger.
The 27-year-old Paine has not played any first-class cricket for Tasmania this season after re-injuring his right index finger during a warmup match. Cricket Australia doctor Trefor James on Wednesday said Paine's recovery had been slower than anticipated.
"It is clear that the fracture has not healed as expected and the best course of action is for Tim to undergo further surgery," James said. Paine, who has played four Tests, was to undergo surgery later on Wednesday.
Australia starts a four-Test series against top-ranked India at Melbourne on December 26 and is in upheaval after a seven-run loss to New Zealand on Monday cast doubt over the immediate international futures of opener Phillip Hughes, No. 3 Usman Khawaja and veterans Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin.
The lack of experienced backup for Haddin takes pressure off his selection as wicketkeeper.
After winning the first Test against New Zealand by nine wickets, Australia had to settle for a drawn series following the loss in Hobart on Monday. No. 8-ranked New Zealand captured its first Test win on Australian soil since 1985 when Doug Bracewell inspired a batting collapse and finishing with 6-40 as Australia slumped from 159-2 to be all out for 233 chasing 241 to clinch a 2-0 series win.
Pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson is out for four months and 18-year-old fast bowler Pat Cummins isn't expected to return until late in the series against India. Allrounder Shane Watson, top-order batsman Shaun Marsh and veteran seamer Ryan Harris are all due to return from injuries at some stage during the four Tests against India.