January 28, 2023

Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of the opening test against South Africa due to the side strain he suffered last week, but Australian captain Pat Cummins is on track to return to the Gabba.
The selectors have designated a 14-player squad for the test that begins Saturday in Brisbane with uncapped Lance Morris retained after being called up for the West Indies game in Adelaide.
It seems likely that Cummins, who had a quad injury, will return in place of Michael Neser with Scott Boland, who produced a triple-wicket maiden at Adelaide on Saturday night, retaining his place. However, Neser, who plays for Queensland, has an excellent first-class record at the Gabba with 77 wickets at 19:46.

Cummins bowled on the outfield ahead of the game on Days 3 and 4 in Adelaide and will do so again on Tuesday.

“Pat continues to improve, bowled with freedom on Saturday and looks likely to play this game, although Josh will need more time,” said national selector George Bailey. “With that in mind, we have kept Michael Neser and Lance Morris in the squad for this competition.

“Michael bowled fantastically in Adelaide as was Scott. We were impressed as always with their performances which backed up what they have achieved in the past. Lance is a very exciting candidate who will benefit from time with the side With so much cricket ahead, we continue to look for opportunities to grow and maintain our fast-bowling experience and depth.”

For Hazlewood there are unfortunate similarities to last season when he suffered a side strain in the Ashes’ opening game and was subsequently ruled out of the series. The hope this time is that he will get the chance to play in Melbourne or Sydney, but the turnaround during the series is very tight.

Neser and Boland’s performances in Adelaide highlighted the depth of pace bowling Australia has to offer.

“The fact that guys are coming in and doing a great job is great for the stock,” said Deputy Captain Steven Smith. “They’re all different, the way they act. Boland and Neser, they’re a little slippery and bring the stumps into play a little bit more than Cummo and Hoff [Hazlewood].

“Lance Morris was in the side, most guys aren’t too keen on seeing him in the nets. We’ll use that chance at the Gabba on a few quicker wickets which will be nice. Our stocks are great so we’ll keep things really competitive.” “

Marcus Harris retains his place as backup batter.

Australia squad David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland, Michael Neser, Marcus Harris, Lance Morris

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