Australia paceman Brett Lee underwent elbow surgery yesterday in a last-ditch attempt to save his stalled career.
Lee, 33, had the procedure done to correct a damaged ligament in his right elbow which has seen him break down twice in the space of just three weeks.
The complaint initially flared up in the first one-day international of the seven-match series against India in Vadodara on October 25.
Lee could only bowl six overs of a possible 10 in that match and on November 15, he aggravated it again bowling for New South Wales in the Ford Ranger Cup.
It continued a sorry 2009 for Lee who was unable to tour South Africa or feature in the unsuccessful Ashes campaign in England due to an ankle injury.
Lee demonstrated he was still a valuable asset to Australia during their 6-1 thrashing of England in the NatWest Series in September when he was the series' leading wicket-taker with 12.
But it appears his latest setback means the next realistic opportunity he has of representing his country would be on the tour of New Zealand in late March.
"He will be required to use an elbow brace for a period of approximately six weeks and then commence more intensive rehabilitation," Cricket Australia medical officer Dr Trefor James said.
"His return to bowling will be determined in due course as he is regularly assessed by the surgeon and Cricket Australia's medical staff."
Lee has taken 310 Test wickets in 76 matches at 30.81 and 324 ODI scalps in 186 appearances at 23.01.
The 2008 Allan Border Medallist has also snared 17 Twenty20 International wickets in 17 games at 26.70.