New Delhi, Mar 19: The struggling Australian cricket team was dealt another blow in the ongoing Test series against India after pacer Mitchell Starc was ruled out of the fourth and final match due to an ankle injury, which would require surgery.
"Cricket Australia advises that Mitchell Starc will return to Australia on Tuesday and will undergo surgery to remove the bone spurs on his right ankle," CA said in a statement.
The bowler had picked up just two wickets in the couple of matches he played in the series which Australia have already lost 0-3.
He did, however, shine with bat by scoring a personal best of 99 in the third Test at Mohali. The fourth Test starts in New Delhi on Friday.
"Mitch has been experiencing ankle pain related to bone spurs during the India Test series and whilst manageable, this represents an appropriate time for Mitch to have the surgery with a view to having him fully fit for the Ashes in late June," Australian Team Doctor Peter Brukner said.
"Mitch will have surgery later this week and we'll assess his recovery as and when he returns to bowling."
Australia coach Mickey Arthur said Starc could have played on despite injury but that would have aggravated the problem.
"We were aware that Mitch would need surgery at some point in the future to have the spurs removed. He could have continued playing but we want to take a proactive approach in managing Mitch to have him fit for the Ashes Series in England.
"Our medical team will monitor his progress closely and decide whether he is available for selection for the ICC Champions Trophy."
Australia's woes are mounting on what has turned out to be a nightmarish tour. Pacer Jackson Bird was sent home last month with a back injury without playing a Test, while skipper Michael Clarke is also struggling with a recurring sore back.