Australian captain Michael Clarke will immediately fly home from the one-day tri-series in Zimbabwe after aggravating his hamstring injury in the shock loss to the hosts.
In addition to missing the remainder of the ODI series, in which the No.1 ranking will go on the line against South Africa, Clarke is in serious doubt for the upcoming Test tour against Pakistan.
Clarke pulled up in pain attempting a single in his innings of 68 not out in Harare on Sunday as he helped Australia limp to a total of 9-209, which would ultimately be run down with three wickets to spare by Zimbabwe.
Before leaving the field for treatment with Australia 5-147, Clarke could barely run between the wickets.
Clarke did return for the final two balls of the innings, but didn’t face a delivery and he was forced to walk the last single scored by No.11 Nathan Lyon.
The skipper had declared he was 100 per cent fit to return after missing the first two matches of the tri-series due to the tightness in his left hamstring he suffered just two days after arriving in Harare.
However, he did admit in a pre-match press conference that he could feel the hamstring when batting – but that it wasn’t restrictive.
Now, Clarke and Australia face a nervous wait to determine the extent of the damage.
Even a low-grade hamstring tear is at least three weeks on the sidelines, and the tour game which precedes Australia’s two Tests against Pakistan in the UAE starts on October 15.
It doesn’t give the injury-prone Clarke much time to recover and get his movement back to 100 per cent.
Clarke’s sterling knock against Zimbabwe was a case in point of how important he is to Australia’s batting – and that is only magnified in the Test arena.
Back in March, the last time Clarke took the field, he batted through a fractured shoulder to score a fighting century which set up Australia’s epic Test series win in Cape Town.
Repeated injury concerns for Australia’s best player is a significant concern heading into a packed 12 month schedule of cricket which features a World Cup and an Ashes series next winter in the UK.