Australia fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck will miss her second consecutive World Cup as well as the remainder of the ongoing Ashes after suffering another stress fracture in her right foot.
Vlaeminck played the opening T20I against England in Adelaide where she bowled with good pace but then reported soreness and was seen in a moonboot during the second match that was washed out on Saturday.
The injury has again occurred in the navicular bone, which is the same one which ruled her out of 2020 T20 World Cup on the eve of the tournament although that fracture had completely healed, and she will now miss the ODI event in New Zealand.
Australia have tried to carefully manage Vlaeminck, one of the quickest bowlers in the world, through the early stages of her career and she has been limited to 24 appearances across three formats since her debut in 2018.
"She's done a great job getting through to this point," head coach Matthew Mott told Channel Seven. "We were always going to look to manage her through. But for it to happen so early in this Ashes campaign, it's absolutely shattering for her and for the whole group. It was a pretty sombre dressing room last night. I spoke to the group about what it would look like for her and we all went through it before, leading into that T20 World Cup.
"She knows what it's about, she's come back before and that's what we've got to hold out hope for. We'll put our arm around her and do everything we can to build her back up. She's a young fast bowler and we see it in the men's game all the time, if you're going to run in and bowl as fast as you can it's a dangerous activity. So we'll do everything we can to get her back up but it's a tough couple of days for her, definitely."
Comparisons have been drawn with the journey Pat Cummins went on after his Test debut as a teenager and the subsequent injuries which then saw him not play another Test for more than five years.
"I knew Patty as a young fast bowler. It's very similar," Mott said. "When you're going through those flat spots and you're rehabbing over and over and it seems like there's no light at the end of the tunnel. To see what he's done off six years basically out of international cricket, to come back a stronger more mature bowler it just goes to show it can be done.
"That won't give her a lot of solace at the moment. She's going to go through some tough times over the weeks and months to come and it's our job as an organisation to make sure that we can put enough support around her, get her back to her best and we will see the rewards in a couple of years time."
Australia team doctor Phillipa Inge said: "Tayla has sustained an acute navicular stress fracture. She had a similar injury in early 2020; this fracture completely healed and Tayla made a successful return to play to international cricket in March 2021.
"Tayla reported a return in midfoot pain and subsequent images have confirmed a recurrent stress fracture of the navicular.
"The Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria medical teams will work collaboratively on the immediate management over the coming days and a subsequent return to play plan."
Australia's selectors will decide on a replacement for Vlaeminck in the coming days but, if they want a like-for-like, it could open the door for tall quick Stella Campbell who made her debut against India earlier this season. Campbell is currently part of the Australia A squad and took 7 for 25 in the WNCL at the start of January.
Vlaeminck adds to a growing list of injuries for Australia as they begin an intensive period of cricket. Legspinner Georgia Wareham is out until next season due to an ACL injury while left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux is unavailable for the Ashes due to a stress fracture of her foot, but it is hoped she will recover for the World Cup.
Beth Mooney has missed the start of the Ashes after suffering a fractured jaw at training although has already returned to light training following surgery last week.