Steven Smith international return date in doubt due to elbow surgery

Steven Smith takes a breather Getty Images

Steven Smith requires surgery on the elbow injury that forced him home from the BPL and appears unlikely to be fit to resume his international career when his ban expires at the end of March potentially leaving him short of time to prepare for the World Cup.

He is expected to wear a brace for six weeks after the operation before returning to training, which will rule him out of the Pakistan Super League, and makes it highly doubtful he would be fit to play any part in the one-day series against Pakistan that had been suggested as his international comeback if the fixtures lined up with the end of his year-long ban. The timescale for his recovery will also put him in doubt for the IPL which starts on March 23.

However, the main concern for the Australia selectors will be if the injury means he is not able to play any international cricket before the World Cup squad has to be named on April 23.

Smith arrived back in Sydney on Sunday and was assessed by Cricket Australia medical staff.

"Steve Smith will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair a ligament in his right elbow. He is expected to wear a brace for six weeks before commencing rehabilitation. Return to play time frames will be clearer once the brace has been removed," a CA spokesman said.

Depending on Smith's recovery he may be available to take up part of his IPL deal with Rajasthan Royals, but those Australian players selected in the World Cup squad have to leave by early May for a preparation camp in Brisbane where they are set to play two matches against a New Zealand XI.

During his ban, Smith has played T20 in Canada and the Caribbean before his aborted spell in Bangladesh. He has also played regular grade cricket for Sutherland and has trained with the New South Wales and Sydney Sixers squads but now faces an even bigger challenge to be ready for the demands of a World Cup campaign.