Shane Warne is expected to recover quickly from a dislocated right shoulder, but team selection rules could keep him out of Australia's defence of the World Cup in South Africa next February.
The Australian Cricket Board believe Warne is likely to be bowling within four to six weeks, but the problem is that they must finalise their 15-man squad by 31 December.
The ACB are reported to be seeking clarification from the International Cricket Board on whether they could draft in a replacement if Warne was named in the original squad but then had to withdraw.
If Warne could not be replaced, the ACB must decide whether they were prepared to risk going with only 14 men.
Warne, the best leg-spinner in the history of the game, was injured on Sunday playing in Australia's 89-run triangular series victory over England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
He attempted to field a drive from Craig White off his own bowling, dived to his right but fell awkwardly on his elbow, jarring the same shoulder on which he had reconstructive surgery four years ago to prolong his career.
The Melbourne specialist Greg Hoy performed exploratory surgery and the initial diagnosis was hopeful.
Although Warne will miss the rest of the Ashes series, it was believed he should make the start of the World Cup in late February.
The ACB medical officer, Trefor James, said: "There were no problems uncovered other than ligament and cartilage damage, which is expected with a dislocation.
"We are confident he will get back to bowling in the long term, and in the short term we are looking at a timescale of four to six weeks.
"Without further unexpected damage being found, this is the best case scenario. I am optimistic he will be available for the World Cup."
Any setback in his rehabilitation would rob Warne of the chance to play in one last World Cup before his retirement in the next three or four years.
Embarrassed by India's start to their tour, their coach John Wright, a New Zealander, has threatened changes ahead of the second Test.
He has warned his underperforming batsmen that their failure in Wellington means each of them will be under scrutiny when they take to the field later this week looking to square the two-match series.
"They certainly didn't do that at the seaming Wellington track and the reason was faulty shot selection. They have to be a lot more judicious."
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