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    Marsh might need surgery to save career

    Melbourne: Racing against time to be fit for the Test series against India, Australian opener Shaun Marsh says he might have to undergo surgery on his troublesome back to prevent his career from ending prematurely.

    Marsh is in doubt for the opening Test starting December 26 due to the back problem that has been bothering him since the very beginning of his career, and might need an operation sooner or later.

    "If I don't do it (surgery), I won't be playing cricket for much longer," Marsh told Fairfax Radio.

    "If I ever have to get an operation done on my back, if it goes again within the next three to four months, I'd probably look to get it done over the IPL. I would do anything to extend my Test career for as long as possible," the left-hander added.

    Australian team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said Marsh will have to be handled with utmost care.

    "Shaun has had this back injury two or three times now, so we are obviously conscious of trying to minimise the risk, but when you're in the game, things happen, and it's hard to control sometimes," Kountouris told The Age.

    "It has to be managed, but that is like anything. If you have a hamstring strain, you have got to manage that forever because the biggest predictor of getting an injury is having had one before."

    "Once you've had something, there is obviously a particular reason why you've had it or a weakness. (Marsh) has got a fairly common back problem for batsmen and obviously it's a concern because he's injured at the moment and it's taking a bit of time to get better," he added.

    Kountouris said efforts are on to get Marsh in shape for the Boxing Day Test.

    "Boxing Day is still two weeks away and we want to get him up at the right time. If he can make it for that, great; if not, we'll have to get him up for the next game ... But we have to go through a process so that when he gets back we minimise the risk of it happening again."

    Australia's beleaguered batting line-up is facing several problems ahead of their series against India, with question marks also over Shane Watson's role.

    Marsh and opener-cum-all-rounder Watson had been expected to return from injury to shore up the top order after Monday's humiliating loss to New Zealand, when the hosts threw away their last eight wickets for 74 runs. The first home defeat to New Zealand in 26 years was a heavy blow for the team, with veterans Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey in the firing line, and the young batsmen also mostly in poor touch.

    New coach Mickey Arthur urged the selectors to decide where injury-prone Watson would bat and how much he would be asked to bowl.

    "It has been speculated about a huge amount," the South African said."We have to come to a point where we make a decision where Shane is going to bat in the batting order and how many overs we expect of him, so there is no more debate about the issue."

    Arthur added that Watson needed a "clear role definition" before the Melbourne Test, indicating he may be moved down the order.

    "We have to balance out how many overs we can possibly get out of him - that is going to determine the balance of the team," he said. "There are a lot of unanswered questions in terms of selection."

    However Watson, 30, told local media that although he is now close to recovering from his hamstring injury, he would probably not be able to bowl in the first Test.

    "At the moment things are progressing well," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Hopefully if everything continues to go well, I'll definitely be fully fit to play on Boxing Day."