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Brett Lee ruled out of World Cup
February 23, 2007 09:37 IST
Australia fast bowler Brett Lee was ruled out of the World Cup with an ankle injury on Friday to continue the defending champions' troubled buildup to the tournament.
Lee tore ligaments in his left ankle during fielding practice in New Zealand last week. He was hoping to recover in time for the World Cup, starting in the West Indies on March 13, but was officially withdrawn after visiting a specialist.
"Brett has injured the ligaments in his left ankle and after further review by orthopaedic surgeon Kim Slater, Kim has today advised me that the injury has not improved over the last week," Australian team doctor Trefor James said in a statement.
"On that basis I have advised Cricket Australia that Brett will not be fit to resume bowling for two to three months."
Australia's chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch Australia had written to the International Cricket Council asking for Stuart Clark to replace Lee in the squad.
The request is expected to be little more than a formality with Clark certain to join the squad when they fly out to the Caribbean next Wednesday.
"It is a great disappointment for Brett Lee that he is unable to take place in the Cricket World Cup and is a significant blow for the planning and preparation in place for the tournament," Hilditch said in a statement.
"However, it does give a tremendous opportunity for Stuart Clark to join the 15-man squad."
Lee is Australia's main strike bowler and his withdrawal is a big blow to the team's chances of winning the World Cup for the third time in a row.
The world champions have lost their last five matches -- their longest losing streak in a decade -- and are facing a mounting injury list.
All-rounder Andrew Symonds underwent surgery this month to repair a torn bicep tendon in his right shoulder and opening batsman Matthew Hayden broke his toe while scoring an unbeaten century against New Zealand on Tuesday.
Australia skipper Ricky Ponting is recovering from a back problem and middle-order batsman Michael Clarke has a hip complaint.
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