Australia vice-captain Pat Cummins says that he will be ready to lead the side in the Ashes if skipper Tim Paine fails to recover from his injury. Paine went under the knife in September to fix his bulging disc in the neck but was included in the 15-member squad for the series against England.
"Hopefully Tim will be fine, he's nearing 100 percent... but I'll be ready if I have to, but I doubt that," Cummins was quoted as saying by Channel Nine.
If Cummins did get the opportunity to lead the side, he said he always has the option to seek advice from senior players like David Warner and Steven Smith, who have previously led Australia.
"If I was in the role and I found it tough, at times, there's ten other guys I'd lean on out in the middle. You've got people like Smithy and Davey Warner who are incredibly experienced, all the bowlers are experienced and look after themselves pretty well so I'd have no issues handballing it over to other people to help out," the fast bowler said.
The 28-year-old hasn't played a first-class match since February. He also skipped the limited-overs tours of West Indies and Bangladesh and the second leg of the IPL before featuring in all of Australia's T20 World Cup games.
But Cummins is confident he will be ready for the red-ball series. "With no games, it gave me the chance to focus on a few different things, so my body feels as good as it has in a couple of years," Cummins said.
"There's no niggles, I feel really fresh and I always love going into a series giving myself the best chance to turn up and, if I have to bowl 50 overs in a Test, I can."
Ahead of the series opener, Australia will play one three-day intra-squad match, starting December 1. Cummins will share pace duties with fellow speedsters Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, who were all part of the Australian side that won its maiden T20 World Cup on Sunday.
"The benefit of the short spells is that we're really, really fresh. I always feel like it's better to be underdone than overdone coming into a big Test series," he said.
"We've got access to quite a few centre wickets. We'll have three, four, five centre wickets where we try and have relatively big days, bowl a couple of spells on those days, and then we'll be ready to go."
The first Test takes place at the Gabba in Brisbane from December 8, followed by the day-night Test at Adelaide Oval from December 16.
(With inputs from PTI)