Brett Lee believes he has only a 50-50 chance of playing at the World Cup despite the news that he does not require surgery on his injured left ankle. Lee saw a specialist in Sydney on Friday but Australia will wait at least another week before deciding how likely he is to recover in time for the World Cup.
The news came as Australia sent Michael Clarke home from the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series in New Zealand after failing to get over his hip soreness. The team is already without Andrew Symonds (arm), Ricky Ponting (back) and Adam Gilchrist (resting).
Lee said he was unsure how long it would take before he was able to play. "The good news is that I don't need an operation, I don't need any screws in the bones which is positive," Lee told the Daily Telegraph. "At the moment probably all I can say is that I'm 50-50 for the World Cup so fingers crossed. I'll have to reassess in about a week.
"It was just a simple fielding routine, getting in preparation to slide for a ball. My shoe got caught in the turf. I went over and felt a pretty bad crack in my ankle and also felt a pop behind my left knee as well.
"I've had that assessed and there's no problem with that. They thought that might have been related to the ankle, but that's been cleared. It was one of those freakish things, it just happened and I was in a fair bit of pain as you probably saw in the footage."
Alex Kountouris, Australia's physiotherapist, said Lee had sustained a serious ligament injury in his ankle and would initially be managed with crutches and a brace. "The surgeon will review him in a week's time and assess his [World Cup] prospects," Kountouris said. "It is difficult to put an exact time on his recovery at this early stage. This should become clearer in the next seven to ten days."
Jamie Cox, one of Australia's four selectors, said they would need to be cautious of sending Lee to the World Cup if there was any doubt over his fitness, given Andrew Symonds was going to the tournament carrying a serious arm injury. "We've already committed to Andrew being over there and [hopefully] being fit at some stage," Cox said on Fox Sports. "So whether we can have two there under the same circumstances, that's when there's some real decisions that need to be made."
Shaun Tait replaced Lee for the New Zealand tour and will join the squad in time for Sunday's second ODI at Auckland. Phil Jaques had already been called in to cover for Clarke, the tour vice-captain.
Kountouris said there was no indication Clarke was in doubt for the World Cup but he would be better off resting for the time being. "Michael is still suffering some hip soreness in certain movements and has not progressed to the point where he is able to play a part in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy," Kountouris said. "As such he will return to Sydney tomorrow to allow sufficient time to recover."