Mitch Marsh’s shoulder injury is worse than initially feared and he will need a full reconstruction to enable him to play again.
As the WA all-rounder returned home last week amid a storm of social media criticism over his Test selection and modest returns in India, it is unlikely that he will play again this year.
That would rule him out of at least the start of the Ashes series, with the first Test scheduled to begin on November 23 at the Gabba.
Marsh will be assessed by a specialist in Melbourne this week after an initial diagnosis indicated he would be out of action for up to nine months.
“Mitchell has been playing with a shoulder injury for most of the summer,” Australian physiotherapist David Beakley said.
“We have been managing (it) up until now but unfortunately it has progressively deteriorated to a point where he is unable to function at the level required.”
A full reconstruction is considered vital if Marsh is to return to bowling in the 140km/h range that has made him a first-choice Australian player over the past two years.
But in a good sign for his prospects of returning to full fitness, champion leg-spinner Shane Warne played Test cricket for another eight years after having a reconstruction on his bowling shoulder in 1998.
Warne was out of action for seven months after the surgery.
Marsh has played 21 of Australia’s 32 Tests since his debut in late 2014 but has attracted considerable criticism over his returns of 674 runs at 21.74 and 29 wickets at 37.48.
He scored four, 31, a duck and 13 in the two Tests in India and went wicketless in five overs.
The 25-year-old appears to have replaced Shane Watson as Australia’s favourite Test whipping boy, though some of the criticism is warranted given that his return of 19.71 at No.6 is the lowest of any regular batsman in that position in Test history.
Australian coach Darren Lehmann made it clear last November that the national selectors were keen to retain Marsh and there was little value in sending him back to the Warriors for an extended period to develop his game.
“We would like him to bat for longer periods in Test matches … but when you’re a multi-format player you don’t get too many opportunities (to play State cricket),” Lehmann said.
Former WA batsman Marcus Stoinis was called up as Marsh’s replacement in India but said during Victoria’s recent Sheffield Shield match in Alice Springs that he had received no indication of his prospects of playing in either Test.
Stoinis also denied he was considering returning to Perth after four years with Victoria.