AUSTRALIAN Twenty20 captain George Bailey has described injured fellow Tasmanian James Faulkner as ``a big loss'' ahead of tonight's opening match against England in Hobart.
In-form all-rounder Faulkner was yesterday ruled out of both the three-match T20 series and the Test tour to South Africa with a knee injury.
The 23-year-old was due to undergo arthroscopic surgery in Melbourne and should be fit to join the South African T20 series before continuing to March's T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.
``He's been a really adaptable player and he's bowled in key areas of one-day cricket and does the same for us in the T20s,'' Bailey said after Australia's training session at Bellerive.
``He's probably our most consistent finisher and has obviously come along as a really good late-innings striker of the ball and a good fielder, so he's someone that will be sorely missed.
``But I think the news is pretty good in terms of him being back for the South African T20s.''
Faulkner, who collected two man-of-the-match awards in the victorious one-day international series against England, was replaced in the 15-man Test squad by New South Wales all-rounder Moises Henriques, while South Australian Kane Richardson was drafted in to take his T20 spot.
The news could get even worse for the Ashes champion, with Western Australian batsman Shaun Marsh and Tasmanian paceman Jackson Bird to stay behind when the rest of the squad flies out to South Africa today.
Marsh, who is battling a calf strain, and Bird (jarred back) will stay in Perth and Hobart respectively for further treatment.
Bailey, who was dropped after featuring in all five Ashes wins, rejected suggestions he could replace Marsh, indicating Phil Hughes probably presented a stronger case.
The former South Launceston batsman said he could not predict how England's demoralising losses in Test and one-day formats would affect it in the T20 series, but said it was exciting to be captaining his country in a sold-out match at home.
``Personally, it's always nice to come back and play here and it's been a really busy summer so there have not been as many days at Bellerive cricketwise as normal so it's great to be back and nice to get a couple of nights in your own bed as well.''
Australia Test squad for South Africa: Michael Clarke(c), Brad Haddin (vc), Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, Moises Henriques, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson.