Australian season 2008-09 October 24, 2008

Jaques out of Australia's home season

Cricinfo staff

Phil Jaques has averaged more than 50 since replacing Justin Langer © Getty Images

Phil Jaques will miss Australia's entire home summer of Tests after having surgery on a bulging disc in his back on Thursday. Jaques will be out of action for several months and the earliest possible chance for an international comeback would be on Australia's tour of South Africa next February, but even that is an ambitious goal.

It is a cruel blow for Jaques, 29, who during the past year had settled into the Test opening role alongside Matthew Hayden. Although he was overtaken by Simon Katich on the current tour of India, Jaques had performed well at Test level and in his nine matches since Justin Langer's retirement he had averaged 50.37 with three centuries.

The long-standing back injury affected his ability to prepare for games in India and he was sent home last week to seek specialist treatment. The problem was discovered to be more serious than first thought and Jaques will be unavailable for Australia's home Tests against New Zealand and South Africa, most of the Sheffield Shield season and potentially the visit to South Africa, depending on his recovery.

"The specialists advised me this is a very serious back injury and my only option was to get it operated on as soon as possible," Jaques said. "I am hoping that with the correct rehabilitation I can play the last few matches of the interstate season, get some batting under my belt and push for selection on Australia's tour to South Africa next year.

"While this is incredibly disappointing at the moment, my sole focus is on getting back to playing for Australia as soon as possible." The injury has opened the door for Katich to cement his place as the full-time opening partner for Hayden.

It has also allowed Shaun Marsh to slip into calculations for the Test line-up having already made a success of his promotion to the opening role in one-day internationals. Marsh was added to the Test squad in India as a replacement for Jaques.