AUSTRALIA has more concerns ahead of the first Test against India starting at the Gabba next Thursday, with batsman Steve Smith joining skipper Michael Clarke on the injured list.
Smith pulled up sore after scoring 67 in Australia's two-wicket win against South Africa in the final match of the ODI series at the SCG on Sunday night and has been ruled out of the New South Wales team for this week's Sheffield Shield match with a quad strain.
He had scans in Sydney yesterday, with Cricket Australia's chief medical officer John Orchard saying he was quite hopeful Smith would be okay for the first Test.
"Steve's scan showed a low-grade quadriceps muscle strain," Orchard said.
"His current prognosis is that he is likely to be fit to play in the first Test in Brisbane in the middle of next week.
"He will stay in Sydney for further physiotherapy treatment and assessment over the rest of the week."
Smith has emerged as a key member of Australia's middle order and was named man of the series against South Africa after being left out of the first match.
He was only brought into the line-up after Clarke injured his hamstring in the opening game of the series.
Despite their injury issues, both players were named yesterday in a 12-man squad for the first Test, with selectors making two changes to the team that played in Australia's last match against Pakistan in the UAE last month.
Fast bowler Mitchell Starc and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell were left out, with NSW paceman Josh Hazlewood and Queensland quick Ryan Harris included.
Chief selector Rod Marsh said Clarke would know if he was ready to lead the team at the Gabba.
"He needs to start running and if he doesn't start running by, I think, Wednesday, then I think we can safely assume that he won't be playing the Test match," Marsh said.
He did not say who would come into the squad if Clarke failed to prove his fitness, but said a national selector would be at each of the three Shield games starting today to keep an eye on the options.
The list of candidates would include Shaun Marsh, Alex Doolan, Callum Ferguson, and perhaps Phil Hughes and Joe Burns.
Despite his outstanding form in recent months, Hazlewood looms as the man most likely to carry the drinks in Brisbane.
Rod Marsh was full of praise for the young fast bowler's recent efforts, but also defended Victorian fast bowler Peter Siddle's form in the two losing Tests against Pakistan on flat tracks.
"I thought Siddle bowled very well in the UAE," Marsh said.
"His figures didn't indicate that, but then again nor did Mitch Johnson's figures show how well he bowled. I thought both of them bowled very, very well under trying conditions."
- APN SPORTS BUREAU
Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (c), Steve Smith, Mitch Marsh, Brad Haddin, Mitch Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
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