Australian pace bowler Patrick Cummins is set to miss the rest of the domestic season with a lower back injury.
The 19-year-old, regarded as one of the most exciting bowling prospects in the country after an impressive Test debut in South Africa last year, has not played first class cricket in nearly 12 months and is set for further significant time on the sidelines after scans revealed he has a bone stress injury in the lower back.
The likelihood that Cummins will miss at least four months rules him not only out of the Australian summer but also out of the four-Test series against India early next year - all but ending any hope he had of playing in next year's Ashes series in England.
He would have to recover form and fitness very quickly without the aid of first class cricket to be selected in the Ashes touring squad.
Australian team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said the early stage stress fracture had to be dealt with carefully to ensure Cummins returns to full fitness.
Kountouris said: "Because of his age and past history we decided to investigate the source of the pain and unfortunately he has an early stage stress fracture of his spine, confirmed by scans.
"Pat had a spine bone stress injury a few years ago but the current injury is new and in an entirely different part of the spine."
"We expect he will recover fully from this injury and will be closely monitored to determine his return to the playing field - but expect he will miss most of the 2012-13 domestic season."
- Sports & Recreation