The Ashes 2017-18: James Pattinson Set To Undergo Spinal Fusion Surgery
In a desperate attempt to prolong his career, injury-prone Australia fast-bowler James Pattinson is all set to go under the knife for spinal fusion surgery to fix a career-threatening recurring stress fracture.
The fast-bowler has already been ruled out of the upcoming Ashes and according to Cricket Australia’s (CA) website, the bowler and the team medicos are in discussions with some New Zealand specialists including the one guru who saved former Kiwi speedster Shane Bond’s career.
Alex Kountouris, CA’s head of sports science, spoke about the surgery in which a graft from Pattinson’s hip will be fused to the problematic vertebrae with screws and/or wire.
“Stabilise the area … like having a cast on your foot,” CA’s sports science chief Alex said.
Kountouris further said that there are surgeons in Australia who perform the similar surgery, but since none of them have done it on a fast-bowler, the team-management is taking no chances.
“There’s a few tests we have to do to see if he’s a good candidate. There’s a lot of people in Australia who do this surgery, it’s reasonably common but none of them have done any fast bowlers that have come back to the elite level,” said Kountouris.
Meanwhile, a stress fracture is common among pacers, and CA is making all possible efforts to manage the bowlers’ workloads to avoid the injury. According to annual CA injury report, stress fractures ranked No.1 regarding most games missed. Australia’s frontline pacers- Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins – all have suffered the injury in the past, but none of them had to undergo an operation.
Speaking about that, team doctor Richard Saw said that the team management is opting for operation in Pattinson’s case since it is complex. This is the fourth time, Pattinson has suffered the injury, and all of them happened in more or less the same spot in his back.
“It’s always better to do things without surgery than with surgery because of the inherent risk of any operation,” Saw said.
“We have some surgical options with James because of the complexity of his case,” he added.
Australia’s fiery pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Patt Cummins have been tipped to play all the five Tests, but Kountouris made it clear that the pacers’ workload will be appropriately managed.
“Our goal is to get them to the first Test and there’s no set goal beyond that,” Kountouris said. “It’s uncharted territory for him (Cummins) … we want him to play all five, that’s our goal. If the first game is over in three days it’s easier (to back up) than if he bowls 60 overs in the first game and pulls up sore. We have to suck it and see.”
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