Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 3rd day December 28, 2010

Stress fracture leaves Harris needing surgery

Ryan Harris is expected to undergo surgery for a stress fracture on his left ankle after suffering an injury that threatens to curtail his promising Test career. Harris, who also has a chronic knee problem, broke down in his run-up seven overs into the third day at the MCG and scans revealed a crack in the 31-year-old's foot.

He has become a hugely valuable member of the side during his five Tests, but now faces a lengthy lay-off that should also rule him out of Australia's World Cup plans. "Ryan is likely to require surgery and will consult a specialist in the next 24 hours," Cricket Australia's Dr Trefor James said. A decision on whether he will bat in the second innings will depend on how close Australia are to saving the game.

Harris was running in to bowl when the bone broke and he left the field for treatment after taking off his shoe to examine the damage. He had figures of 0 for 91 off 28.4 overs and Michael Clarke was called to finish the over.

Harris' body has been his major weakness over the past couple of years and a five-Test series has proved too much. After storming to nine wickets in the Perth victory last week he said he would not have an operation to repair his knee because the recovery would take 18 months and effectively end his career.

The ankle problem will take months to heal and it is a particularly troubling issue for fast bowlers, who land all their weight on the left foot during their delivery stride. Brett Lee suffered a similar problem here in 2008 and didn't play Tests again. Harris has taken 20 wickets in his five games, including a career-best 6 for 47 at the WACA.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo