Cricket Australia (CA) has issued a fitness update on fast bowlers Jackson Bird and Mitchell Starc and the news is better for the former than the latter.
Both men had scans on back injuries following the Ashes in England and although Bird has escaped a major injury, Starc has an early stage lower back stress fracture.
While Bird is expected to be available for the 2013/14 Ashes which begins in November in Brisbane, Starc's participation has to be rated as extremely doubtful.
"Jackson returned home from the VB Tour of England with some lower back soreness," CA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Justin Paoloni said.
"We have ruled out a major injury but will review scans in two weeks to confirm this. We expect that he will be available during The Ashes."
Commenting on Starc, he added: "Mitch Starc had scans following his arrival back to Australia and they have shown an early stage low back stress fracture. His management plan will be determined in the coming days but he is expected to be unavailable for a prolonged period."
CA General Manager Team Performance Pat Howard said: "While it’s a disappointing result for Mitch, we know he will bounce back. Starc, James Pattinson and Pat Cummins are all under 24 years of age and we are certainly well aware that until fast bowlers get into their mid-20s they are more susceptible to injury.
"Historically, we’ve rarely seen three such promising young fast bowlers come through at the same time and all of a similar age so when they get injured of course that will be disappointing. We’re doing our best to minimise longer term injuries, but we are also realistic that such injuries are possible.
"Looking at a comparison of some of Australia’s best quicks at the age of 23, Pattinson and Starc are second and third on the list behind Craig McDermott in terms of performance."
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“What that tells us is we have a greater reliance on younger fast bowlers at international level than ever before and we’re getting the most we can out of these talented young players, who are all coming through into international cricket together,” Howard said.