Saturday, 15 December 2012

Ben Hilfenhaus left the field after indicating soreness in his side

He had left for scans to give further clarity on the injury:

Australia face the grim prospect of trying to win a Test with only three specialist bowlers for the second time in three matches after Ben Hilfenhaus shuffled off Bellerive Oval with a suspected left side strain.

After bowling the second ball of his 13th over to Sri Lanka's vice-captain Angelo Mathews, Hilfenhaus grimaced, felt for his hip or side, spoke briefly to his captain Michael Clarke and left the field, leaving Shane Watson to complete the over. He later left the ground for further medical examination. "Ben Hilfenhaus has some sort of left side injury, which is being investigated," a team spokesperson said. "He is going for scans to give further clarity on the injury."

The injury is a serious blow to the hosts, as Hilfenhaus had been considered alongside Peter Siddle one of the two durable, senior bowlers to be relied upon across the summer. They were outlined as critical to Australia's planning as the youthful group including Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood could be rotated around them.

Of that quartet, only Starc has reached this point of the summer without being sidelined, while John Hastings, called up when both Siddle and Hilfenhaus missed the Perth Test against South Africa, is recovering from a back injury.

Siddle and Hilfenhaus were unable to be considered for the WACA match as a direct result of Pattinson's withdrawal midway through the draining Adelaide Test due to a side/rib injury, which left the older duo with a heavy workload across the second innings.

Nathan Lyon was also leaned on heavily in Pattinson's absence, and he can now expect another hefty shift while Hilfenhaus convalesces. Watson's return to the team in the interim as an allrounder will be of some help to Clarke's bowling options, but Australia's captain is reluctant to overbowl his deputy out of fear it will both detract from his batting and also cause another round of injury.

Hilfenhaus' bowling has been the subject of considerable scrutiny so far this summer, as he appeared to lapse into the bad habits that bedevilled him during the 2010-11 Ashes series following a year punctuated by lots of Twenty20 assignments and precious little first-class cricket.

When Hilfenhaus was recalled after missing the Perth Test, having picked up a slight knee niggle in Adelaide while wrestling with his bowling action, the national selector John Inverarity described his halting progress, which has required plenty of time with Australia's bowling coach Ali de Winter.

"The history with Ben, he was doing well then the last series against England in Australia [in 2010-11] he didn't bowl to his highest level," Inverarity said. "He got things sorted out, a few niggles were sorted out and he got his bowling action right, and his bowling last summer was superb. He bowled at good pace and very well.

"His bowling in the first Test was a bit like against England, it wasn't as good as he'd hoped. So he needs to get 100% fit to perform, and his action so that he bowls like he did against India last summer, and we're hopefully that during this little break he'll be back to that sort of form."

In Hobart, Hilfenhaus did not generate his customary outswing, and struggled early on for his line as he drifted too often into the pads of Tillakaratne Dilshan. This angle proved more profitable against Dimuth Karunaratne, as a ball running across the left-hander caught an outside edge on the way through to Matthew Wade. As things stand, it will be his last major contribution to this match.

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