BENGALURU: The Australian cricket team’s injury concerns continue to mount before their first Test against India with seasoned fast bowler Josh Hazlewood ruled out of next week’s opener in Nagpur, which begins on Thursday.
Hazlewood, 32, has been struggling with an Achilles problem sustained during Australia’s test against South Africa in Sydney last month and said on Sunday he will miss at least the first test of the four-match series.
Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc has already been ruled out of the opener while all-rounder Cameron Smith is doubtful, with both picking up finger injuries.
Hazlewood, who did not bowl during Australia’s training camp on the outskirts of Bengaluru, is now racing to be fit for the second Test in Delhi, which starts on Feb. 17.
“It’s still lingering from the (Sydney) Test match,” said Hazlewood, who has featured in only four tests in the last two years due to a string of injuries. “Not sure about the first test. It’s still a few days away but it’s sneaking up pretty quickly.
“Second one is obviously straight after as well. So, we’ll play it by ear over the next week and next few days… It’s been frustrating playing one Test at a time. It always feels the hardest Test to play.
“They sort of get easier as they go and you get to the other side, the end of the series, it gets hard again. Hopefully I can string a couple together on this tour.”
Australia coach Andrew McDonald remains hopeful Green can feature in the first Test against India, saying he still had progress to make before he could be considered for the series opener.
Green damaged his right index finger during the Boxing Day Test win over South Africa in Melbourne and was only given clearance to return to training by his doctor on Monday following surgery.
The 23-year-old bowled with soft balls for 30 minutes in the nets at the Australian camp before doing an hour’s batting practice.
“He’s made some significant steps forward in the last couple of days, probably to my surprise. There’s still an outside chance that, everything going well, he might be on the team sheet,” McDonald told reporters.
With Green unlikely to be able to bowl in the first Test, captain Pat Cummins acknowledged the make-up of Australia’s bowling line-up remained unclear.
“I wouldn’t say (picking two spinners) is a given,” he said. “It’s very conditions dependent, particularly this first Test, so once we get to Nagpur, we’ll see.
“I think sometimes, talking about a couple of spinners, you forget how good a lot of our fast bowlers have been in all conditions.
“We’ll obviously pick the bowlers that we think can take 20 wickets how are we going to split that up I’m not 100 per cent sure yet.”