Australian bosses face questions over bulging injury list

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The Independent Online

Australia's embattled cricket board has defended its player management practices from withering criticism, following a raft of injuries that have gutted the team's bowling unit.

James Pattinson was added to a long casualty list in the wake of Australia's victory in the second Test against India last week, the fiery 21-year-old to miss the rest of the four-Test series after scans revealed bone stress on his left foot.

Pattinson, the form bowler of Australia's summer with 25 wickets in his first four Tests, joins Pat Cummins on the sidelines. The 18-year-old was struck down by a heel injury that flared during his debut in the second Test victory against South Africa in November. Swing bowler Mitchell Johnson was ruled out of the India series with a toe injury, while all-rounder Shane Watson is unlikely to play a part as he recovers from a strained hamstring.

The crammed casualty ward has placed Cricket Australia under the microscope, former players and pundits accusing the team's handlers of either flogging their troops too hard or failing to build up their endurance for the rigours of Test cricket. Team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris defended the cricket board's player management but said it had launched a detailed probe into the recent injury glut.

"We're going back and looking at every injury, looking at workloads, how they felt, what they reported, and just seeing if we could have intervened to make a difference," Kountouris said in comments published by local media on Sunday. "Sometimes you can look at one or two small things and say, 'okay, maybe we could have done this better or done that better'.

"The amount of cricket people are playing is different and the formats are different so it's not as simple as how much they're doing."

Australia have brought in Mitchell Starc to replace Pattinson in a 12-man squad including injury-prone paceman Ryan Harris for the third Test in Perth, starting on Friday.