Doug Bollinger has been included in Australia's Test squad to tour the West Indies as a replacement for Ben Hilfenhaus, who is suffering from a recurrence of a stress fracture in his lower back. Bollinger will make the trip as part of the 15-man squad as long as he can prove he has recovered from a broken foot he sustained in February.
The news came while Bollinger was on his honeymoon, and barely a week after he was offered his first Cricket Australia contract. "I'm just wondering if they might bump me up to first class," Bollinger told AAP before leaving Sydney for Honolulu. "It's probably been the best week of my life. I'm so happy that it's happened and I'm just so excited at the moment."
Bollinger, who was married to Tegan Sutherland on Friday, was unlucky not to be chosen in the original group for the Caribbean campaign following a breakthrough Pura Cup season. He topped the wicket tally with 45 at 15.44 despite missing the last three games with the injury.
"I've had a bit of a bowl," Bollinger said. "I've been running and I've been in the gym, so I feel really well at the moment."
Alex Kountouris, the Australia team's physio, said Bollinger should be fine to make the trip. "Doug has recovered well from his fractured foot," Kountouris said. "He has been bowling for the last couple of weeks with no complaints and, as long as he completes the final fitness test, we believe he will be fully fit to take part in the Test tour of the West Indies."
Hilfenhaus' injury means he cannot bowl for several months, which rounds off a disappointing year after he collected 28 Pura Cup wickets at 43.82 and struggled to have the same impact as in his outstanding 2006-07. However, he did retain his Cricket Australia contract and the selectors said he would remain in the frame for future series.
"Obviously this is very disappointing for Ben," Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said. "However, given the amount of cricket facing the Australian side in all forms of the game over the next 18 months, a conservative approach to the management of his back injury is best to ensure he makes a full recovery."
Kountouris said the aim was to have Hilfenhaus fit and fresh for the start of 2008-09. "Ben had some lingering back pain towards the end of the Pura Cup season and recent scans have revealed a possible recurrence of an old stress fracture to the vertebrae," he said.
"His recovery will involve not bowling for the next few months but continuing on with a rehabilitation and strength program. We believe this will be his best preparation for the beginning of the 2008-09 season."
The squad gathers in Brisbane for a training camp in early May ahead of the three-Test series against West Indies. Five ODIs and a Twenty20 international follow before the players return to Australia in July.