Leading England batsman Kevin Pietersen is to miss the remaining three Ashes Tests after undergoing surgery on an Achilles tendon.
The 29-year-old was operated upon on Wednesday and is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks in recovery.
Pietersen missed the one-day series against the West Indies earlier in the year to recuperate in time for the Ashes.
KP revealed in The News of the World his form had suffered early in the series due to his carrying the Achilles injury.
But the full extent of his discomfort was not realised until he required four injections, two each in his heel and back, just to take the field in the second Test at Lords.
The South-African born batsman had a perineural and an epidural injection in his back as well as a cortisone and a homeopathic injection into his Achilles.
The England and Wales Cricket Board chief medical officer Nick Pierce said Pietersen was recommended surgery by the leading Achilles specialist in the world.
Pierce said: “A number of short-term measures were considered but having been reviewed by the specialist, who flew into London from Sweden specifically, it was felt that anything else would put the tendon at risk and jeopardise his long-term recovery,
“The operation involved a small incision and trimming of the blood vessels and nerves around the inflamed tendon and appears, at this early stage, to have been routine.”
Pietersen had scored 153 runs in four innings in the Ashes so far, averaging 38, well below his career average of near 50.
Pietersen lamented: “To leave a winning dressing-room at this time is heartbreaking but it wouldn’t be fair to the team or myself to continue given the severity of the injury.
“I’ll be supporting the team closely and wish them the best of luck as they look to build on the brilliant win at Lord’s and reclaim the Ashes.”
Pietersen’s injury will rock England’s selection panel as Andrew Flintoff’s fitness is under constant assessment in his last Test series.
Ricky Ponting’s Australia will relish the opportunity to build pressure if England are not as free-scoring in KP’s absence.