Perth Scorchers not only failed to break their opening-game hoodoo in the Big Bash League, losing to Adelaide Strikers, but to add to their woes, Nathan Coulter-Nile suffered a nasty dislocation on his shoulder. Coulter-Nile slipped after a misfire at backward point, and fell awkwardly on his right shoulder. He was substituted off the ground in the 12th over, and did not reappear.
It is a bitter pill for Coulter-Nile to swallow after surprisingly emerging into Test calculations ahead of the West Indies series. Coulter-Nile was in the frame to make his Test debut on Boxing Day, but now those dreams are in serious jeopardy. Victoria pacer Scott Boland - who was on standby for the first Test - is most likely to replace Coulter-Nile in the squad, if necessary.
Coulter-Nile had enjoyed a fine all-round performance starting with a blistering cameo of 18 off 8 balls, including two towering sixes to help the Scorchers reach a competitive total of 6 for 151. He then performed with the ball to snare the wicket of Strikers opener Craig Simmons and was boasting figures of 3-0-18-1 before injury struck.
After the match, the Scorchers captain Adam Voges said Coulter-Nile would have scans on Tuesday. "His shoulder is back in place, fingers crossed," he said.
The dislocation is the latest injury in a horror-run for Coulter-Nile, who has suffered numerous knocks this year. He picked up a calf strain during Australia's limited-overs tour of England in September, and suffered a left shoulder injury after landing awkwardly in a training mishap during the Matador BBQ One-Day Cup in October.
Having endured his own string of injury problems over the years, Scorchers allrounder Mitchell Marsh was sympathetic of his team-mate's plight. "Nathan has had a tough time of it with injuries. We just want him back," Mitchell told ESPNcricinfo.
While his Test team-mates Voges and brother Shaun performed solidly, Mitchell had a poor game, making just one run and going wicketless. He failed to make contact with a flighted Adil Rashid delivery after lazily charging the pitch and was bowled off just the second delivery he faced. Mitchell's dismissal stifled the Scorchers' momentum, and they were unable to recover fully.
Mitchell said he was disappointed with his performance, but believed he was in good shape ahead of his Boxing Day Test debut. "It was disappointing to miss a full toss, it was unfortunate but it happens," he said. "I feel really good right now and I'm looking forward to Melbourne after missing last year's Test due to injury. The MCG Test is a special week."
Mitchell said he hoped to play the Boxing Day Test with his brother Shaun, who dazzled early in the Scorchers' innings with a 35-ball 47. Shaun is in a battle with Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns to retain his Test spot.
"[Shaun's] in very good form, and has been for the last 12 months," Mitchell said. "That decision is above my pay grade but hopefully he gets picked. It would be extra special to play with Shaun during Boxing Day and enjoy the occasion with family."
After losing their opening game for the fifth straight year, Mitchell was at a loss for the Scorchers' perennial slow starts to the BBL campaign.
"I can't put my finger on it because it is very important to start these tournaments well. Maybe we tried too hard," he said. "For the team we had, we didn't put enough runs on the board. It was a beautiful wicket, 180 would have been a good total."