Melbourne: Wicketkeeper Tim Paine's career was thrown into jeopardy after South Australia's state coach Darren Berry revealed that the Aussie was a long way away from playing cricket again due to his latest finger injury.
Berry said that he was "staggered at how bad the injury looked" when he met the national team back-up keeper during a Sheffield Shield game in Hobart.
"I could tell by watching him trying to make a fist he was a mile away from competitive cricket," Berry said.
Paine, who has played four Tests for Australia, broke the finger during a pre-season training session with Tasmania.
Originally expected to miss action for three months, he was ruled out for the whole season last week.
The 27-year-old was pressing incumbent Brad Haddin hard for a regular berth in both the Test and ODI team until the setback.
Berry wrote in 'Fairfax's Sun-Herald' newspaper that Haddin can ill-afford to take it easy with the likes of Matthew Wade, Chris Hartley and Peter Nevill breathing down his neck.