Injury forces McGrath out of India, Zim tours

Published: Sunday, October 5, 2003, 21:07 [IST]
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Perth: An ankle injury had forced Australian spearhead Glenn McGrath to withdraw from this month's two cricket Tests against Zimbabwe and a three-week Limited Overs tour of India starting late October. Officials said today McGrath, 33, was also in doubt for the first Test in a series against India starting in Brisbane December 4.

McGrath had surgery on his left ankle in August and had been recovering well, but pulled up sore after bowling in the nets in Perth on Saturday. He felt pain and discomfort in the ankle -- the one which supports his weight in his delivery stride -- and Saturday the pain was still there. A team spokesman said McGrath left Perth to fly home to Sydney where he will have further ankle surgery this week. He faced up to two months on the sidelines, the spokesman said.

But Australian physiotherapist Errol Alcott was confident McGrath, who has 430 wickets from 95 Tests, would be back before the end of the Australian summer. McGrath had been attending an Australian pre-Test camp here, and earlier indications were that he would be ready to take part in the first Test against Zimbabwe, starting at the WACA Ground Thursday.

He had said all along he would not play unless he was close to 100 per cent fit. McGrath also indicated he was prepared to sacrifice the first half of the domestic summer to ensure his fitness for a gruelling schedule over the next 18 months. "For a fast bowler, when you've got ankle problems with your front foot, it can be a major problem," McGrath said. His absence means Australia will go into Thursday's Test without him and the suspended Shane Warne, who have 921 scalps between them.

The last time the pair were absent from an Australian Test line-up was in last summer's fifth Test against England, when Australia lost by 225 runs. Western Australian fast bowler Brad Williams has been promoted to the Australian 12 for the first Test, but is expected to be given 12th man duties.

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