Ashes bolter’s brutal timing with huge injury blow ahead of English summer audition

·2-min read
Sheffield Shield Final - WA v VIC: Day 2
Will Sutherland will be sidelined for months as he recovers from a stress fracture in his lower back. Picture: Paul Kane / Getty Images

Star Victorian all-rounder Will Sutherland will miss out on a debut county cricket season in the UK after scans revealed a back stress fracture.

Sutherland was assessed after he reported pain in last week’s Sheffield Shield final against Western Australia, in which he starred with a first innings haul of 5-75 and blistering 83 in the second innings.

The 23-year-old had dropped down the order to number eight due to the pain, and did not bowl as the Warriors chased down the target of 91 to claim the title.

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The lower back stress fracture was confirmed by Cricket Victoria on Wednesday afternoon, in a blow which will rule Sutherland out of his maiden county campaign with Essex, a stint which could have put him in the frame for an Ashes call-up following his impressive domestic season.

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath said the club wished Sutherland a speedy recovery.

“It’s really unfortunate that Will has injured himself so close to the 2023 season,” McGrath said.

“We were all looking forward to welcoming him to Chelmsford and we’re sorry to hear he will face a period of time recovering from his stress fracture.”

Sutherland would have been a frontrunner for a back-up all-rounder role in the Ashes squad, with Shield final adversary Aaron Hardie now all but confirmed as the understudy to Cameron Green.

The Victorian had been in rare form in the Sheffield Shield, as well as starring for the Melbourne Renegades in a breakout BBL campaign.

His Shield final haul propelled him to the top of the competition leading wicket-takers with 41 at 19.92, while he made 467 runs at 29.18, including a maiden first-class century, as he nailed down a top six batting position.

Sutherland had also assumed the captaincy while Peter Handscomb was absent on Test duties, leading the Vics to four consecutive wins including a convincing victory over Western Australia in the penultimate match of the season.

Cricket Victoria head of male cricket David Hussey said it was a devastating blow for the young all-rounder.

“It’s disappointing for Will after a fantastic season. He had signed with Essex to go over and play in the County Championship – but this news will keep him at home and working on his rest and rehabilitation program for the next few months,” Hussey said.

“He has put his name up in lights with some big performances through the summer and we want him to be ready for next season, so we’ll do everything we can to support him with his injury rehabilitation.”