London: England`s number one off spinner Graeme Swann was ruled out of the Test series against New Zealand before the first match at Dunedin on Tuesday due to a damaged elbow.
Swann would fly to the United States next week for surgery on the his right elbow, which has been bothering him from a long time, and the off spinner now faces a race against time to be fit for the all important Ashes in July.
Swann will be out of action until early summer, but in reality he has 126 days to recover before the Aussies rock up at Trent Bridge on July 10.
Swann`s worst fears were confirmed by a scan, the most dreaded four-letter word in English cricket, after he was ruled out of the first Test against the Kiwis half an hour before start of play.
Monty Panesar was called up just two days after sitting a sports management exam at Otago University, and Kent`s James Tredwell will fly out to New Zealand as Swann`s replacement.
Four years ago, surgeons removed 29 tiny fragments of floating bone from Swann`s elbow joint and he recovered to play all five Ashes Tests, and took Mike Hussey`s wicket to clinch the urn at The Oval.
However, doctors left two remaining shards of bone behind because they were too close to vital nerve fibres, and these residual fragments are thought to be the cause of Swann`s ongoing discomfort.
Although Swann was reluctant to go under the knife again, and the timetable leaves no scope for setbacks, this shattering diagnosis left him with little option but remedial surgery, the paper concluded.