Marsh, Harris ruled out of Pakistan series
Batsman Shaun Marsh has been ruled out of Australia's next two tours with an elbow injury, while fast bowler Ryan Harris has also been officially declared unavailable for the series against Pakistan in the UAE in October.
Cricket Australia's confirmation on Harris was widely expected, given that he had not even started running yet after having major knee surgery in March. It is unclear whether Harris will be fit for Australia's home Tests against India, but the team physio Alex Kountouris is hopeful that he will be bowling again before Christmas and could be in the mix.
However, the news that Marsh requires surgery on his elbow and will miss the tours of Zimbabwe and the UAE and the start of the domestic summer was more of a surprise. Marsh picked up the ligament problem during the IPL earlier this year and his failure to recover with a period of rest has left him with no option but to have surgery next week, which will rule him out for up to four months.
The injury lay-off comes at a particularly inopportune time for Marsh, who would have been considered for Australia's Test squad to face Pakistan in the UAE in October after his 148 against South Africa in Centurion in February. Although Marsh lost his place in the Test side later on the South African tour, he would have been a chance to make the touring party for the Pakistan series.
The injury means he will also be unavailable for the one-day tour of Zimbabwe in late August, as well as the Champions League Twenty20 and the start of the home summer for Western Australia. Marsh, who has been plagued by injuries over the course of his career, will have surgery with the goal of returning later in the domestic season and becoming available for the World Cup and next year's Ashes tour of England.
"It's a pretty significant injury," Kountouris said. "We don't see it much in cricket; it's more common in baseball. Cricketers tend to cope with just a short period of rest and they come back and do well. Shaun has had a short period of rest, but it's still a problem and we know that surgery takes a long time to recover.
"There's a three-to-four month recovery period and we've chosen to go ahead with that because it gives him time to play for Western Australia and prepare for the World Cup and the Ashes next year."
Australia will also be hoping to have Harris available for the 2015 Ashes, after his outstanding performance there last year and his remarkable work on the tour of South Africa this year. After bowling Australia to a series win in Cape Town, Harris had surgery on his chronic knee problem and said he was hoping to be available for the Pakistan series, but it soon became apparent that was an unrealistic aim.
"We're certainly not looking to him to be right for the UAE at the moment," Kountouris said. "He's going to start running in the next couple of weeks and we'll see how his knee responds to that and hopefully it'll respond the way we expect. If he copes with that, we'll transition him into bowling.
"We're looking for him to be able to play somewhere before Christmas. Hopefully it'll be the India Test matches and he'll play some Sheffield Shield matches before that, but until he starts running and then bowling it's very hard to predict what's going to happen."
Kountouris also said that left-arm spinner Ashton Agar had been ruled out of the ongoing quadrangular A-team series due to a knee injury. Agar, who made his Test debut in the Ashes Test at Trent Bridge last year, was expected to play for Cricket Australia's National Performance Squad in a tournament which also includes A-teams from Australia, South Africa and India.
"It's a tendon problem that we're trying to manage and being a pre-season tournament, we've decided to get him home and get him right for the start of the season," Kountouris said of Agar's fitness.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale