Injured Australian captain Ricky Ponting will undergo surgery on a fractured finger today, as he battles to be fit for February's World Cup on the sub-continent.
Ponting broke his left little finger during the third Test in Perth and aggravated it playing in the fourth in Melbourne, where England held on to the Ashes with a convincing innings and 157-run victory.
He is missing from this week's final Test in Sydney, where Michael Clarke is leading the team in his absence. The injury means he is unlikely to play in the upcoming one-day series against England.
"Ricky had further x-rays today on his fractured finger which have shown that the bone fragment has further displaced and will not heal without surgery," according to team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris.
"As such Ricky will have surgery tomorrow. He is expected to miss the one-day international series against England and recover in time for the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup."
Ponting's hold on the captaincy has come under intense scrutiny after he failed to wrestle back the Ashes and let his frustration boil over during ill-tempered exchanges with umpires in the fourth Test in Melbourne.
His form with the bat has also been questioned after a string of low scores in the series.
He has said he has no intention of retiring or giving up captaincy of the Test side, and is committed to the effort to lift the country's fourth World Cup in succession after victories in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
Surgery should give Ponting enough time to recover for Australia's pre-World Cup practice matches against India and South Africa.