An already beleaguered Australia have been dealt a huge blow ahead of the third Ashes Test with seamer James Pattinson ruled out for the remainder of the series on account of a stress fracture of the back.
Pattinson reported "hip and back soreness" after the final day of the second Test at Lord's, which Australia lost by 347 runs to fall two-nil behind in the series. The bowler was sent for a scan and Cricket Australia confirmed he had suffered a stress fracture of the lower back that will rule him out for the remainder of the series.
Cricket Australia team doctor Peter Brukner confirmed Pattinson will remain with the squad ahead of the third Test and will fly back to Australia after they travel up to Old Trafford next week.
"We had some scans done today in London that have identified an early stage low back stress fracture. Unfortunately he will not take any further part in this Test series and will commence a rehabilitation program with the aim to have him back for the Australian summer."
Who should replace James Pattinson?
Pattinson’s position in the team had been under threat prior to his injury, as he had taken only seven wickets in the two Tests at an average of 43.85, according to ESPNCricinfo, and was particularly disappointing in the defeat at Lord’s where he returned match figures of 2 for 137.
With Australia needing to win the final three Tests to take the Ashes from England’s grasp, coach Darren Lehmann will have to decide whether to bring in a straight pace replacement for Pattinson or go with two spinners.
The other pace bowlers in the touring party are Mitchell Starc, Jackson Bird and James Faulkner, while Nathan Lyon is the second spinner at Australia’s disposal. All four may well feature in the tour match against Sussex this week with Lehmann making it clear that every player in the squad is in the mix for the third Test.