Ricky Ponting will miss the Twenty20 leg of Australia's UAE tour against Pakistan and his medium-term future in the head coach Justin Langer's plans has been placed under a cloud after he suffered a serious Achilles injury while shooting a commercial.
Considered one of Langer's closest confidantes, Ponting and his management team have had a long-term dialogue with Cricket Australia about how he is to best serve the national team while also juggling a host of other corporate and broadcasting commitments post retirement.
While he had previously worked with Australia's T20 team with some success and was also involved with the team on their ODI tour to the UK earlier this year, discussions about whether Ponting would be going to the UAE were still taking place when he suffered an Achilles tear kicking a football during a shoot for one of his sponsors.
Having undergone surgery to repair the tear last week, Ponting's mobility will be restricted for three to six months, making it difficult for him to fulfil the sort of assistant coaching roles Langer had envisaged for him whenever available. Nevertheless, CA and Ponting will continue to discuss ways of involving him in the Australian team set-up.
The injury is not expected to interfere with Ponting's new role as Channel Seven's biggest commentary signing for their free-to-air coverage of Australian cricket this summer, which commences with the first Test against India in Adelaide in early December.
The unavailability of Ponting is a blow to the developing coaching tenure of Langer, though, given the pair's closeness. Langer spoke recently of how the magnitude of the job - rehabilitating Australian cricket after the Newlands ball-tampering scandal and amid two concurrent reviews into the culture of the team and CA - was keeping him awake at night, and that he needed to know who he trusted.
"It's the first time in my adult life I've woken up in the middle of the night," he told The Australian. "I did it a few times in England. I've done it a few times since I've been home. It's bizarre but hopefully as I start getting my feet under the table and I start knowing who I trust around my new team of people at Cricket Australia, hopefully I start sleeping better.
"Certainly I'm gaining greater clarity in the foundations of what we are trying to achieve in the team for the next few years. I'm getting clarity about leadership. My huge focus is organic leadership and it can't just be about the title C or VC, it's got to be about developing these young blokes.
"If I leave this role and there's probably six or seven guys who you could make captain tomorrow then I reckon I've done a pretty good job because if we do that … then not only will we be playing good cricket and I reckon the Australian public will be proud of us again, we'll have earned respect and there will be plenty of heroes out there for Australian kids, and that's the way it's always been in Australian cricket."
The support staff Langer takes with him to the UAE will be largely unchanged from the group that his predecessor Darren Lehmann took on the fateful trip to South Africa, with David Saker as assistant and bowling coach, Graeme Hick as batting coach and Brad Haddin as fielding coach. All are under contract until the end of the 2019 Ashes in England.
Cricket Australia declined to comment.