Sport

Injured Peter Siddle facing lengthy time out as Australia eye historic clean sweep

National coach Darren Lehmann says Australia have learned the lessons from their recent failures on the dust bowls of the subcontinent and will embrace the alien conditions on future missions.

But Australia's return to the the top of world cricket has been soured by twin injuries to Peter Siddle, whose Test future is again under a cloud after scans revealed he has stress fractures in his back. He also has an ankle problem that requires surgery and faces a "significant amount of time" on the sidelines, Cricket Australia say.

Australia move to number one in the world

Australia move back to number one in the world whilst New Zealand bid farewell to Brendon McCullum.

But CA are aiming to have star paceman Mitchell Starc back in national colours for a one-day series in the West Indies in June.

CA are unsure when Siddle will return but he will be sidelined for months rather than weeks, placing him in extreme doubt for the tour of Sri Lanka in July and August.

Double injury: Victorian paceman Peter Siddle.
Double injury: Victorian paceman Peter Siddle. Photo: Getty Images

While it is too early to write off the lion-hearted paceman, there will undoubtedly be concerns if the 31-year-old can add to his 61 Tests. The veteran was not on CA's initial contract list last year – he was upgraded during the summer – and is no longer an automatic selection in the Test XI due to the rise of Australia's next generation of quicks.

Siddle had scans in Melbourne on Monday after suffering back pain during the first Test in Wellington.

"Unfortunately those scans have indicated a stress fracture in his lower back. He will now require a significant amount of time away from the game with a lengthy rehabilitation process," CA physiotherapist David Beakley said.

History beckons for Australia if they can win a maiden World T20 title in India as no team has ever taken the clean sweep of the No.1 Test ranking and been world champion in both the white ball formats at the one time.

Australia have not been strong in the shortest form of the game and also struggled in major tournaments on the subcontinent. There is little room for error in the World T20 as only two of the five teams from each group progress to the knockout stage, which means any more than one defeat could be terminal.

Australia have been grouped with India, Pakistan, New Zealand and a yet to be revealed qualifier, tipped to be either Bangladesh or Ireland. Their first game is against New Zealand on March 18.

"You need to get off to a bit of a flyer, we didn't do that last time," Lehmann said of the 2014 campaign where they lost their first three games and were eliminated at the first hurdle. "In any T20 competition if you start well you go a long way."

Australia leave soon for a three-match T20 series in South Africa before flying to India.

"The hardest thing over there is adapting to conditions really quickly," Lehmann said.

"Hopefully South Africa are thinking the same things and making the wickets as close to India as they possibly can.

Australia return to the subcontinent in July to take on Sri Lanka in their first Test series since regaining the No.1 Test ranking. The spin-friendly conditions means there will be changes to the squad which won 2-0 in New Zealand.

"It'll certainly be different to here, for example, how much that changes I don't know but you'd have to have a couple of spinners, blokes who play spin well," Lehmann said.

"That's the biggest thing when you play away, you have to change and not fight the conditions. I think we've learnt that along the way."



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