The Brisbane Heat are confident star batsman Brendon McCullum will be fit for this summer's Big Bash League despite pending surgery for a long-standing back complaint.
McCullum exacerbated his back issues during the Caribbean Premier League, forcing him to pull out of his commitments with Middlesex for the English domestic T20 competition.
Heat coach Dan Vettori, a former international teammate of McCullum, said the club had already factored in possible surgery for McCullum and were expecting him to be fit for the club's first game on 21 December.
"At this stage, we understand Brendon is looking at around two months recovery once he has the operation," Vettori said..
"It is something that we had considered earlier in the year and factored the possibility of it happening.
"All going well he will still have the better part of two months before the start of the BBL so we will monitor things and work with him to assist his recovery and preparations as we go."
The former New Zealand captain had been troubled by the injury during a short spell with Middlesex earlier this season, and the problem had worsened in the CPL where he played with the Trinbago Knight Riders, who were beaten in the elimination final by eventual champions, the Jamaica Tallawahs.
In 10 matches for Trinbago, McCullum scored 158 runs at 19.75, with a high score of 49 not out. He hit 13 boundaries and seven sixes.
In five innings for Middlesex earlier this year, McCullum hit 132 runs at 33, with a high score of 87 not out.
Quick Single: McCullum ends county stint with bang
The big-hitting 34-year-old's absence comes at an inopportune time for Middlesex as he will miss the county's quarter-final against Northamptonshire on Tuesday, when a place in Finals Day at Edgbaston later this month will be at stake.
McCullum played three matches for the Heat in the inaugural Big Bash season, and renewed that will
Middlesex managing director of cricket Angus Fraser said he was aware McCullum had been struggling with his back.
"The short nature of a T20 means there is always the temptation to play someone when they have an injury, but Brendon felt he could not do himself justice and did not want to risk letting the team down in such an important game," Fraser said on the county's website.
"He has been having regular injections and dosing up on pain killers for some time just to get by, which is not particularly good for you.
"As a club we have not had a lot of luck with injuries in the past couple of weeks. Seven first XI players have been forced to miss cricket or play in discomfort for one reason or another. But we will travel to Northampton on Tuesday with an excited and extremely capable squad.
"These are the sort of games we wanted to be involved in when we discussed our goals at the start of the season and we will give it everything we have got."
McCullum at a glance
- Has been New Zealand one-day captain since 2008 and Test captain since 2012.
- Made his Test debut for New Zealand in 2004 against South Africa and his ODI debut against Australia in 2002.
- Is the leading career scorer in Twenty20 International cricket and is the first, and so far only, player to have scored two T20 international centuries and 2000 runs.
- Scored 302 against India at the Basin Reserve last year, and in doing so became the first New Zealander to score a triple century in a Test.
- His 50-ball hundred against Australia in 2009-10 is the fifth fastest ton in T20I history, while at one point he held the record for highest scores in both T20I and T20 domestic matches.
- Launched the Indian Premier League with a stunning knock of 158 in the first-ever match, in 2008.
Brisbane Heat: Samuel Badree, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, Andrew Fekete, Luke Feldman, Jason Floros, Sam Heazlett, Josh Lalor, Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum, James Peirson, Nathan Reardon, Alex Ross, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, Jack Wildermuth.