| Australian leg spinner Stuart MacGill during nets at the MCG on Tuesday. (AP/PTI)
Melbourne: Australian batsman Darren Lehmann is suffering from an acute leg infection and is in doubt for the fourth Ashes Test against England starting on Thursday.
Lehmann was taken to a Melbourne hospital for treatment on his right leg, Australian Cricket Board (ACB) doctor Trefor James said on Tuesday.
Uncapped Queensland batsman Martin Love, who scored two double centuries against England in tour matches this season, flew to Melbourne on Tuesday and was placed on stand-by to join the 12-man squad should Lehmann fail to recover.
“Darren was admitted to hospital overnight on Monday and will receive a course of intravenous antibiotics,” James said in an ACB statement. “It is hoped he will be discharged on Christmas Day depending on his progress over the next 24 hours.”
Lehmann suffered the ailment just as he had been fighting to regain a regular Test place.
Lehmann returned to the side for the first time in four years when Mark Waugh was dumped for the first Test in Brisbane in November and Mark promptly retired.
In five previous Tests, Lehmann had scored 228 runs at 28.50, and in the current series he has made 97 runs at an average of 32.33 with a highest score of 42.
Selectors had placed added faith in Lehmann last week by appointing him stand-in vice-captain for the one-day side in the absence of injured wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.
The 32-year old responded with a creative 119 in Australia’s 142-run win over Sri Lanka in Perth.
“He’s a quality player. If he doesn’t play, he’ll be disappointed because he’ll feel he’s in good form at the moment,” Australia Test captain Steve Waugh told a news conference on Tuesday.
Lehmann’s withdrawal would ensure Love’s Test debut. Australia’s fastest bowler Brett Lee is favoured to win the third seamer’s role ahead of Andy Bichel, while Stuart MacGill replaces leg-spinner Shane Warne, who had shoulder surgery nine days ago.
Meanwhile, England wicketkeeper-batsman Alec Stewart has a bruised hand and is yet to prove his fitness for the fourth Test.
Stewart suffered the injury during a one-day match against Sri Lanka in Perth last week, team spokesman David Clarke said.
“He had an injection in it this morning, he should be okay,” Clarke said. “He batted today. He didn’t keep. But he’ll have to keep (at a training session) tomorrow. (Reserve wicketkeeper) James Foster is already a member of the Test squad. He’s there ready to go if needed.” (Reuters)