Fast bowler Pat Cummins has again succumbed to a serious back injury and will be replaced by allrounder James Faulkner on Australia's Test tour of Bangladesh next month.
The injury is a major setback for Cummins, whose career has been plagued by back and foot problems since he made his Test debut in South Africa in 2011 at the age of 18. Cummins was Man of the Match in that game but at 22 he is yet to add to that one Test cap - in fact he has played only eight first-class matches in his career - and now faces another long period on the sidelines.
"Pat Cummins experienced lower back pain during the last ODI match in the UK and this pain continued upon his return to Australia," Cricket Australia physiotherapist David Beakley said. "He subsequently underwent an MRI scan yesterday which unfortunately has revealed a new early stage lumbar bone stress fracture. Consequently Pat will be unable to participate in the Bangladesh Test series and will now enter into a lengthy rehabilitation program."
Australia will still hope Cummins has a big international career ahead of him, but with each new injury the concerns for his future have grown. He suffered a back stress fracture in the Sheffield Shield final in March 2011 and later that year succumbed to a stress fracture of the foot, soon after his remarkable Test debut in Johannesburg.
A further back stress fracture in November 2012 and a recurrence in August 2013 on Australia A's tour of South Africa meant he missed a third consecutive home season. Although Cummins was able to play last summer and was part of Australia's World Cup-winning squad early this year, he has mostly only been used in the shorter formats.
Cummins has not played a Sheffield Shield match since the final in March 2011 and if the latest injury rules him out of the summer the gap between his Shield appearances may stretch towards six years. National selection panel chairman Rod Marsh said Cummins had been impressive in the recent ODIs in England.
"This is really unfortunate for Pat and I know how disappointed he will be," Marsh said. "He is a young bowler with a bright future for Australia and we were really pleased with how he bowled in the UK. We have opted to replace him with James Faulkner. James comes back into the Australia Test side having only played the one Test, but he is an exciting young bowler who could be very handy in the conditions we are likely to see in Bangladesh."
Like Cummins, Faulkner has played only one Test, having debuted in the dead rubber at The Oval in 2013. Faulkner will join Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc and the uncapped Andrew Fekete as Australia's frontline pace options for the two-Test tour of Bangladesh.
Australia were already without the injured David Warner for the tour of Bangladesh, while Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood have been rested. Also missing from the squad that set out on the Ashes tour this year are Michael Clarke, Ryan Harris, Shane Watson, Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin, all of whom have announced their Test retirements.