Australian pace bowler Josh Hazlewood is “still a little bit away” from regaining full fitness after he suffered a side strain in the ribs cage during the opening Test at Brisbane, which ruled him out for the second and third Ashes Tests.
It was speculated that Hazlewood would be fit for the ongoing Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), but captain Pat Cummins said while announcing the playing XI on Saturday that the bowler was still “pretty sore”, adding that the fourth Test at SCG could see him return to action.
Before the start of the third Test, Hazlewood said, “I’m still a little bit away, (this Test) is probably a week early. We’re still not sure, we’re going to take this week as it comes and likely have a bowl on Day 3 or Day 5, see how that goes and then build up from there.
“The workloads are still there from the first Test, but obviously I haven’t had a bowl in 10-12 days and we’ll see how it goes on Day 3,” Hazlewood was quoted as saying by sen.com.au on Sunday.
The extent of the 30-year-old’s injury is still unclear and Hazlewood, the fifth-ranked Test bowler on the ICC rankings, said he was taking “a day-by-day approach”. The pace bowler, who made his debut in 2014, added that there is a “slight tear” in his rib muscles.
“It’s probably more on feel this one, it’s a bit of an interesting one, it’s the intercostals in between the ribs, there’s a slight tear. I’ve never had it before, I’ve had the normal oblique side strain, which is the common one, but we’re taking each day as it comes and we’ll make the decisions on basically how I feel.”
Hazlewood said he was disappointed at missing the action in the traditional Boxing Day Test.
“I guess once your down here, you see the ground and the crowd starting to roll in, it’s pretty disappointing and the same thing with last week at Adelaide, I love being there and not being able to go and watching it on TV, it was disappointing.”
Hazlewood’s place in the side has been taken by Scott Boland, who became the 463rd cricketer to wear the Baggy Green on Sunday. He’s also the fourth indigenous player to feature for Australia.