Steve Smith is set to go under the knife to fix an elbow injury with less than three months to serve on his year-long suspension.
Smith is set to undergo surgery to repair a ligament in his right elbow on Tuesday.
The right-hander is then expected to be in a brace for six weeks, which will be followed by extensive rehabilitation.
A Cricket Australia spokesperson said on Saturday his return to playing will be made clearer once the brace is removed.
Smith returned home from the Bangladesh Premier League overnight to undergo scans on the injured elbow.
The injury is a major blow to Smith, whose 12-month suspension for his involvement in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal ends on March 28.
The setback comes with less than six months to go before Australia’s World Cup title defence in England, which is immediately followed by an away Ashes series.
The 29-year-old played only two matches for the Comilla Victorians in the BPL, where he scored 16 and zero.
The ban handed down by Cricket Australia in the wake of the Newlands incident precludes Smith and former teammate David Warner from playing international cricket and domestic cricket in Australia.
Both players have instead played in Canada, the Caribbean and Bangladesh in T20 competitions, and on home soil they have played NSW Premier Cricket with success.
While it’s uncertain when and where Smith and Warner will return to the national team, limited-overs captain Aaron Finch said last month both players will be warmly welcomed back.
“When Davey and Steve are ready to make their – be allowed to come back and play cricket for Australia and their states – from my point of view they’ll be welcomed back with open arms,” Finch said.
“Whatever’s happened, has happened.
“The punishment has been dealt. They’ve been working really hard off the field to meet every criteria, and go above and beyond everything that has been asked of them, to come back and play international cricket again.”