England are confident spinner Graeme Swann will be fit for next month’s World Cup, despite being ruled out Tuesday of the rest of the Australian tour with a back injury.
England coach Andy Flower said Swann would not play in any of the final four matches of the seven-game one-day international series against Australia, which the home side lead 3-0.
Swann, who had been expected to miss Wednesday’s match at the Adelaide Oval due to a bruised knee, is heading back to England to prepare himself for the World Cup, being held in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
All-rounder Tim Bresnan has already headed home after suffering a calf strain during the second match in Hobart last Friday.
Flower said the gruelling tour, now well into its third month, was taking its toll on the tourists.
“Graeme Swann will be taking the earliest flight home,” Flower said.
“He’s unfortunately got a strain in his lower back and that, allied with his knee problem, means that it is best for him to go home and get ready for the World Cup now.
“Of course it is a big blow, he’s an important part of our side, he’s a world-class performer and he’s full of confidence obviously after the Ashes.
“We are coming towards the end of a long, hard tour and certainly the physical challenges are starting to take their toll.”
Flower said Swann would be missed during the remainder of the one-day series, with England struggling to maintain their five-series winning streak in 50-over cricket.
Swann said he was confident he would be fit for the World Cup, which runs from February 19 to April 2.
“It’s frustrating to return home from the tour early but the priority for me now is the World Cup and getting my body right so that I am able to play an important role for England throughout the tournament,” he said.
In good news for England, seamer James Anderson, rested for the first three games, is expected to play on Wednesday, and batsman Kevin Pietersen has shrugged off a groin problem.
Seamer Stuart Broad is back with the squad after suffering an abdominal strain during the Ashes but is unlikely to feature in the one-dayers.