With skipper Pat Cummins set to return after completing a period of isolation after coming in close contact with a Covid-19 positive person, Australia will have to rework their pace bowling attack for the third Test starting at Melbourne on Boxing Day.
In the absence of Cummins, in-form pacer Mitchell Starc shouldered the responsibility of leading the Australian pace battery while Jhye Richardson made a triumphant return to Australia’s playing XI in Adelaide by claiming five wickets in the second innings.
With Josh Hazlewood, who missed the Adelaide Test with a side muscle injury, also available, the Australian think tank led by coach Justin Langer needs to make some difficult calls as Australia rework their pace battery for the Melbourne Test.
Langer, however, expects Mitchell Starc to be one of the pacers for the Melbourne Test.
“Mitch Starc was almost man of the match, last game …he’s an unbelievable athlete, he’s incredibly fit,” Langer told the media on Thursday.
“His resilience to just keep coming up over and over and over again is remarkable and his consistency of length, and the way he controlled the tempo of (the) last game) was a credit to him, particularly with Patty and Josh Hazlewood not playing.
“He became the leader of the group, he did a fantastic job. So I would be very surprised if he doesn’t get up for Boxing Day.”
Hazlewood and other NSW members of the Test squad were due to arrive in Melbourne on Thursday after a pre-Christmas break.
Langer said Hazlewood chose to come to Melbourne and have his Christmas in the Victorian capital, with his girlfriend.
If Hazlewood misses out again, the likely pace battery for Boxing Day would be Cummins, Starc and Richardson, with allrounder Cameron Green and spinner Nathan Lyon completing the bowling attack.
“It’s nice to have this nursery of bowlers, (which) we know can perform in Test cricket,” Langer said.