Shane Watson's chances of getting onto the Ashes plane are in doubt, though the injury-prone all-rounder makes light of his latest groin strain, saying he would be fit to play in the Twenty20 World Cup what to talk of the Ashes.
The Queenslander, who broke down yet again during Australia's Twenty20 loss to Pakistan in Dubai on Thursday,
described his groin injury as "a very minor sort of strain" and insisted that it wouldn't keep him out of the World Cup.
Unable to bowl after straining his groin while opening the batting, Watson now has no way of proving his fitness before the selectors name the Ashes squad on May 21 or 22.
Watson was to resume bowling in Thursday's match after a six-month break due to stress fractures in his back. He returned to the side for the just-completed five-match one-day series in the UAE, and did well as opening batsman, ending up as the tournament's leading run getter, reports Australian media.
His form prompted chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch to say that Watson was the front-runner to fill in the reserve batsman's position on the Ashes tour as he could also bowl.
Watson, 27, was to fly to South Africa for the latter stages of the Indian Premier League (IPL), to continue his rehabilitation with Brett Lee, who bowled his first ball for Australia in almost five months on Thursday after recovering from ankle and foot surgery.
Instead, Watson returns home on Friday and will be closely monitored in the lead-up to next month's Twenty20 World Cup in England. Cricket Australia team doctor Trefor James said Watson had sustained a mild groin strain.
Australian physiotherapist Alex Kountouris corroborated the statement, saying it was only a minor strain that would not sideline Watson for too long.
"He will return home for scans and rehabilitation and his condition will be reviewed over the coming weeks to determine his availability for the ICC World Twenty20 Cup in England," James said.
A talented cricketer with an excellent first-class record, Watson has suffered a debilitating run of structural and soft-tissue injuries, which have severely limited his international cricket. He has played just eight Tests in four years, averaging 20 with the bat and claiming 14 wickets at 36.
Victorian allrounder Andrew McDonald, who was always in the box seat to be Australia's No 1 Ashes allrounder, can start packing his bags for England.
Andrew Symonds' Ashes chances have also risen marginally, although selectors are understood to be reluctant to pick him for Test cricket given he averaged 15 for Queensland in eight Sheffield Shield matches last season.
Watson may still be named in Australia's Ashes squad but there will be a strict "subject to fitness" clause.