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Will Sutherland, the overseas signatory, was sent to Essex for check-ups on a suspected stress fracture

EXCLUSIVE: Will Sutherland, who signed abroad for Essex, was sent to scan for a suspected stress fracture and the 23-year-old seamer is now unlikely to play in County’s Championship opener against Middlesex next Thursday

  • Will Sutherland has been sent in to run scans for a suspected stress fracture
  • It comes after the Australian seamstress signed for Essex as an overseas player
  • It is now unlikely that he will appear in the opening match of the County Championship next week

Essex suffered a blow on the eve of the County Championship season after overseas signing Will Sutherland was sent for checks for a suspected stress fracture in the back.

Sutherland, 23, was the leading wicket-taker in the recently concluded Sheffield Shield season, taking his casualty tally to 41 with five for 75 before reporting an upset in Victoria’s final defeat to Western Australia last weekend.

The son of former Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland was unable to bowl in the second innings, although that didn’t stop him from smashing 83 with the bat to avoid any possibility of the home team winning in Perth.

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath has identified the 6ft 5in player as a key factor in 2023 during the winter stint on the Melbourne Renegades coaching staff.

Yet Australian cricket bosses are unlikely to want a player whose stock has risen so dramatically in six months of outstanding performances across all formats pushed into four-day cricket even if sweeps show no significant damage.

It seems unlikely that Sutherland will play in the opening match of the Essex County Championship against Middlesex

The 23-year-old was sent for scans after it was suspected he had a stress fracture in his back.

The 23-year-old was sent for scans after it was suspected he had a stress fracture in his back.

Just a week ago, Sutherland committed to an agreement with Essex until the end of July – to ensure he would be on hand and match-ready should the Australian Ashes suffer injuries – but the club will almost certainly have to look elsewhere now to get through the early stages of a first-class competition. Start next Thursday.

Meanwhile, two-time England manager Peter Morris has taken up the challenge of finishing the silver ducks Melbourne Stars after agreeing a two-year winter contract with the MCG franchise.

The 60-year-old has won the Vitality Blast twice with current club Nottinghamshire and also captured the Championship pennant during earlier stints with Sussex and Lancashire.

The Stars are one of only two Big Bash League teams never to have been Australian Twenty20 champions – the Hobart Hurricanes being the other.