Andrew Symonds will miss the remainder of the Commonwealth Bank Series and is a real doubt for the World Cup after rupturing a biceps tendon in his right shoulder during Australia's match against England on Friday. The all-rounder sustained the injury while batting and was forced to retire hurt on 39. He is expected to have surgery to correct the problem today.
Symonds will miss the rest of the tournament and this month's Chappell-Hadlee series in New Zealand as he attempts to regain fitness for the World Cup starting next month in the West Indies. The Australian team doctor, Trefor James, would not speculate on how long he would be out of action. "He will undergo intensive physiotherapy following surgery. His return will depend on his progress," James said.
Australia's first World Cup match is just six weeks away, but Symonds is confident of making a full recovery. "I feel optimistic about the future because I know I'm a good healer," he said. "My wrist injury healed quicker than expected and is fine now. I'll do whatever it takes to get back as quickly as possible."
Symonds was a member of the Australian team who won the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, and the 31-year-old all-rounder will be one of the cornerstones of their campaign to win a third successive World Cup. He has scored more than 4,000 runs and taken 121 wickets in 161 matches, his versatility allowing the Australians the luxury of picking four specialist bowlers.
The powerful Queenslander smashed an unbeaten 39 off 35 balls but had to retire hurt once it became obvious the injury was serious. Australia lost by 92 runs, their first defeat in any form of cricket since October.
"I felt it go during the game but I didn't realise how bad it was," he said. "I batted on but the pain was considerable and I was advised by the team physio, Alex Kountouris, to come off."
England's long-term planning for the World Cup revolved around a Durham pace bowler's firepower - but just a month before the plane leaves for the Caribbean his identity has changed.
Liam Plunkett has revelled in new-ball duties for England over the past week to fill the hole left by his county colleague Steve Harmison's premature retirement from one-day internationals. Having kicked his heels in the nets for all but the fag end of the Ashes tour, the 21-year-old has seized his chance with six wickets in two matches.
His first ball in Sydney saw him send back Adam Gilchrist with a beautiful inswinging yorker and finish with career-best figures of three for 24.
"To get him first ball meant the pressure was bang on from then," said Plunkett.
With World Cup selection just 10 days away it was a timely opportunity to showcase his ability to unleash 90mph, wicket-taking deliveries.
"Obviously you want to be as quick as you can but also in control, so game by game I feel like I'm getting better and more consistent," said Plunkett. "Hopefully the pace will stay along with consistency.
"I just want to read the situation: if the pitch is quick I want to run in and hit it, but yesterday there was a little bit in it so I tried to slow down a little bit and try to hit an area.
"I am never going to be the quickest in the team but I feel I can hit the pitch hard and that is what I do best. I've had two months getting back into cricket, been in the gym quite a lot and got lot stronger."