Australia's list of woes

Phrases such as "lack of confidence" and "looking to bounce back strongly" are those not usually associated with Australia. The team's recent travails have not been helped by a spate of injuries. With every creak and groan perceived as doomsday from fifty different angles, here are some of those who have the injury microscope (or MRI scanner as the case may be) on them.

Brett Lee: The latest to fall under the injury cloud, Brett Lee's exclusion from the World Cup squad is a major blow. A consistent wicket-taker, his numbers show his value to the Australian set-up, with 30 wickets in his last 15 ODIs at an average of 21.13. His absence was keenly felt in New Zealand during the Chappell-Hadlee series, where Australia's bowlers had to buy each wicket at a costly 59.9 runs and were guilty of not finishing off the opposition when they had them on the ropes. Indeed, such is the lack of confidence within the bowling ranks without its spearhead that Ponting has considered chasing whenever possible to relieve the bowlers of as much pressure as possible.

With his left ankle's tendons torn and bits of bone "floating around", Lee has slated a tentative return for the start of the next Australian summer season.

Andrew Symonds: His all-round ability was what allowed Australia the luxury of picking an extra bowler or an extra batsman. His big hitting has always been a feature of his batting. That Australia lost a game after Symonds had hit a score of fifty or more way back in 2002-03, against the West Indies, says a lot about the impact he has on a match.

Although he is capable of chipping in with the odd wicket, it is his fielding that has often made viewers sit up wide-eyed.

For such a big man, Symonds possesses great speed across the turf and an absolute rocket launcher of a right arm. Even though he hasn't been completely ruled out of the World Cup, when he returns for the latter matches, he will be a much-reduced force. With a much-weakened right arm and virtually no match practice, his effectiveness in the field and his big hitting will have diminished.

Michael Clarke: One of the in-form batsmen in the Aussie side and Symonds's partner-in-crime within the thirty-yard circle, Clarke was forced to miss the recent Chappell-Hadlee series with a hip problem. This is another blow for the Aussies in the field, as the injury seemed to be hampering his movements. However, he is expected to recover in time for the World Cup.

Ricky Ponting: Yet another of the great fielders in the Aussie side and more importantly an inspirational captain who leads from the front. Although expected to lead the side out for the World Cup, the fact that he had to take cortisone injections to reduce inflammation due to spurs in his spine means that his first few diving stops in the field would be rather tentative. But Australia will be more than happy to welcome even a partially fit Ponting back, as Australia wins more often than not when Ponting ups his game. He averages 49.37 in the last 30 ODIs that Australia won, with four centuries and 11 fifties, as compared to his career average of 42.48.

Matthew Hayden: Hayden recently hit top form in the Chappell-Hadlee series, as his unbeaten 181 will show. But the innings came at a costly price, with a Mark Gillespie yorker catching him flush on the foot and breaking his big toe. He will be fully fit for the World Cup, but this is yet another injury worry that Australia does not need now.

Bharath Janardhan