Shane Warne has broken a finger and is in doubt for the start of Australia's Test series against the West Indies.

The injury occurred while the champion leg-spinner was taking a catch in today's Pura Cup game for Victoria against New South Wales at Punt Road, Richmond. Mark Waugh skied a ball off the bowling of Colin Miller. Warne, fielding at first slip, juggled what should have been a sitter before holding it. The ball landed on the top of the joint of the ring finger of his right hand.

Warne's finger became sore and swollen after a short while. He left the field and went to hospital for precautionary x-rays, which confirmed the fracture.

Doctors have indicated that Warne will be unable to bowl for around six to eight weeks. They are waiting for the swelling in his finger to subside before making a decision on whether surgery is required. It is possible, however, that he will still be allowed to bat in Victoria's innings, as this would be unlikely to cause any further damage.

The First Test against the West Indies begins in four weeks' time, on November 23. With the first three Tests all to be held before Christmas, Warne could well miss the majority of the Frank Worrell Trophy series.

While an embattled West Indian camp may see encouragement in Warne's absence, his likely replacement could be just as formidable - New South Wales' Stuart MacGill, who has been in outstanding form early in this Australian season.