Sydney:With Brett Lee shouldering the high workload of Australian bowling attack, fear of a serious injury to the pace bowler is looming large.
Skipper Ricky Ponting revealed Lee was "completely spent" in the closing stages of the second Test against the West Indies last week, and coach Tim Nielsen admitted managing the paceman's load was now a huge challenge.
In the past six Tests, Lee has sent down 1673 balls - 371 more than Stuart Clark and 178 more than Johnson.
Ponting's problem is that Lee has been bowling so well (13 Test wickets at 19.53 in the Caribbean), that it is almost impossible to take the ball out of his hand.
Ponting, who used Mike Hussey's medium pace to spread the load in the second Test in Antigua, said part-time bowlers such as Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds will be used more often.
"Michael Clarke and Symmo are guys that I'm probably going to have to call a little bit more on now, with Shane (Warne) and Glenn (McGrath) not being around," Ponting was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph.
When Australia had Warne and McGrath, Lee was used in short spells.
But there are growing concerns he could become too much of a stock bowler, which would not suit his style and put him at risk of exhaustion.
Australia would be reluctant to rest Lee from a major one-day tournament, such as the Champions Trophy in Pakistan in October, but it may be a consideration if it wants him fit for the 2009 Ashes series.
"I think the selectors have been pretty clear and pretty open in saying that at different times they will look at giving players a bit of a spell if they need to," Nielsen said.