In yet another blow to Australia, fast bowler Josh Hazlewood is all but set to miss the first Test against India in Nagpur, starting February 9, according to Cricket.com.au. It is believed that the fast bowler has not fully recovered from an Achilles injury on his left leg that he sustained during the Test series against South Africa recently.
It could get worse for Australia as Hazlewood could also miss the second Test in Delhi given that there isn't much time between the conclusion of the first Test and start of the second.
Australia are already without Mitchell Starc for the Nagpur Test as the seamer continues to recover from a finger injury. With both Starc and Hazlewood out, Scott Boland could be in line to play his first overseas Test, while Lance Morris might be handed a Test debut. Furthermore, Cameron Green who is also nursing a finger injury will not be available to bowl at least in the first Test, further denting skipper Pat Cummins' firepower in the bowling department.
"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 and hopefully Tuesday goes well," Hazlewood said on on Sunday (February 5).
"Just a bit of workload management at the moment. Just managing the Achilles. I was bowling a fair bit leading into the tour at home and sort of just pushing up against it. Probably wasn't recovering as well as I would have liked between each session so thought we'd give it a few days here straight of the bat and try and get over the hump and have a bowl from Tuesday on [in Nagpur] and hope it goes well."
Australia are currently preparing for the India Tests at the outskirts of Bangalore, where Hazlewood has not taken part in full training. India, on the other hand, have already reached Nagpur as they begin their preparations to defend the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Due to injuries, Hazlewood has played just four Tests over the course of the last two years. He played the series opener against West Indies in Perth, but pulled out of the second game due to soreness. He missed three more Tests as a result, before playing the rain-affected Sydney Test against the Proteas, where he injured his Achilles.
"It's still lingering from the (Sydney) Test match probably. We obviously bowled after a lot of rain and the jump-offs were quite soft, where we were taking off from and they ended up replacing them as well. It sort of worked to a degree. But just that extra load jumping off a soft ground to bowl and again first Test match. Your body is not used to that sort of workload as well," Hazlewood said.
"It's been frustrating playing one Test at a time. It always feels the hardest Test to play, the first one and 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," he said.
Despite Hazlewood's rise in the white-ball formats, he still remains adamant that Test cricket will remain his No. 1 priority. "As fun as T20 is and as lucrative as it is, I find it still plays second fiddle to Test cricket," said Hazlewood.
"This series, Ashes series, home summers are what you play cricket for. I don' t think that will ever change. I've chatted with guys at Cricket Australia, Cricket NSW … to get a plan together (to manage his body). It's probably about short-term loss versus long term gain a lot of the time.
"You've got a T20 World Cup or an IPL or a one-day series, it's about still ticking those boxes off the field to be ready to go for a Test series.
"It might hurt that particular series, or you might not be 100 percent but in the long term you might be better place for an Ashes or a home Test summer. It's just about summing what's right and how much you can do."