Melbourne: Australia's senior selector Trevor Hohns rejected suggestions on Sunday that the national team was "in crisis" with injuries 16 days before the start of the World Cup in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Experienced middle-order left-hander Michael Bevan became Australia's latest casualty on Saturday when he was taken off the ground on a stretcher with a groin injury during the second tri-nations series final against England. The Bevan incident came shortly after young all-rounder Shane Watson had been forced to withdraw from the World Cup squad with a back problem. Several other players, including star fast bowlers Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie, are still under fitness clouds. But Hohns, chairman of the selection panel, said there was no cause for panic.
"I think to have so many injuries before the World Cup is obviously a little disturbing, but the pieces of the jigsaw are coming together," he said. "There is certainly no crisis. "Glenn McGrath is okay - the team medicos are totally confident of that and he could have played on Saturday against England. "Gillespie did play today (taking 1 for 28 in 10 overs for South Australia in a One- day inter-state match against Tasmania) and from all reports bowled very well. "Shane Warne is back playing. Now the only problem area is Bevan. "Our first World Cup game is in 16 days, but the injury isn't as bad as first thought, so that's a bonus." Bevan said he was hopeful of playing in the World Cup after scans on Sunday revealed his injury, a torn groin muscle, will sideline him for two to three weeks rather than six to eight weeks as first feared.
The injury could rule Bevan out of Australia's first two games, against Pakistan on February 11 and India on February 15, while fellow middle-order batsman Darren Lehmann is already out of the Pakistan game through suspension. Selectors will have a telephone hook-up on Monday to decide whether Bevan should be retained in the Cup squad or replaced by a fully fit player. "My absence will probably be limited to two to three weeks... which is good news from my point of view," Bevan said. "I guess it means I will miss maybe two matches maximum of the World Cup if the selectors decide to go that way." The selectors will be reluctant to lose Bevan, who averages an impressive 54.8 runs over 196 Limited Overs Internationals. If Australia did replace him, it would have to use a player from the original 30-man squad. The most likely replacement would be Michael Clarke, who made a timely 116 for New South Wales in its Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia at Newcastle on Sunday.