Australia’s hopes of fielding the ‘Big four’ pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson suffered a huge hit after the latter was ruled out of the upcoming Ashes.
Pattinson will be out of the game indefinitely after he re-aggravated a lower back stress fracture that has seen the pacer sidelined since July 1.
Doubts had remained over the Victorian bowler’s fitness after fears that he remains vulnerable to recurring stress fractures on his back.
Pattinson was disappointed to suffer a fresh setback after undergoing rehabilitation in the past few months.
“Obviously I am extremely disappointed with this setback after just getting back into a good run of playing cricket,” the 27-year-old told cricket.com.au.
“I’m especially disappointed to miss out on the possibility to play in a home Ashes series.
“Over the next few weeks I will discuss all available options available to me with medical staff, to work out the best plan to prevent this from happening again.”
Pattinson had asked not to be selected in the Border Gavaskar Test series in India earlier this year which had led to a call-up for Pat Cummins.
The Victorian had been a member of Australia’s squad for the ICC Champions Trophy in England during the summer but did not see any playing time.
He complained of back pains after his return from a county stint with Nottinghamshire following which he was withdrawn from the touring party to Bangladesh.
Australia bowling coach David Saker had earlier given an update on the fitness of the pace attack with Mitchell Johnson nearing his comeback to competitive cricket after his injury lay-off.
“Three of them we know are on track,” Saker said. “James Pattinson’s had a little setback but we’re not sure how bad at the moment. Josh Hazlewood is on track to play the first Test. Mitchell Starc’s going really well and Patty’s obviously flying,” he added.
The fourth pacer slot for the Ashes series has candidates like Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jackson Bird waiting in the wings.
England are set to arrive Down Under on October 28 with the first Test starting at the Gabba in Brisbane on November 23.
England’s controversial all-rounder Ben Stokes could be set to miss the upcoming Ashes Down Under if he remains the subject of a police investigation when the tour commences.
The star man of the English side had created headlines for the wrong reasons just recently when he was arrested for his role in a night club brawl in Bristol City, just hours after England had beaten West Indies in the third ODI.
The British Broadcasting Association (BBC) understands that the police have not put any timeline for the conclusion of the investigation against Stokes and it is not far-fetched to think that the case could take months to be resolved.
Stokes was arrested on September 25 on suspicion of causing bodily harm in the fracas which occurred at the Bristol night club in the presence of England teammate Alex Hales. The England man was released without charge but put under police investigation.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) included the 26-year-old in the Ashes squad, retaining him as the vice-captain of the side two days after the controversial incident.
However, the ECB then suspended Stokes and Hales indefinitely from playing after video footage of the incident was released and started its own investigation into the fiasco.
ECB director Andrew Strauss had announced last week that the board was conducting a cricket discipline commission inquiry into the roles of both the players in the incident.
It is understood that the governing body is yet to take a call on whether to send the all-rounder to Australia and are waiting for the outcome of the police investigation before making a decision.
The first Ashes Test starts on November 23 at the Gabba with England flying out on October 28.
The next police update is not expected to arrive before mid-October at the earliest and as such, time is running out for Stokes to seal his ticket on the plane to Australia.
South Africa’s players remain opposed to Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) initiative to herald the first four-day Test format against Zimbabwe on Boxing Day.
CSA had announced plans for the first-over four day Test pending approval of the ICC against Zimbabwe but it seems that the board has bypassed consulting with its own players before going ahead with the decision.
It was originally India who were expected to be the opponents for the traditional Boxing Day Test but the BCCI’s addition of a last-minute series with Sri Lanka has delayed India’s arrival in South Africa to December 28.
The four-day Test against Zimbabwe, the first of its kind, was proposed by then CSA chief Haroon Lorgat to fill the void created by India. Lorgat had announced his resignation from the role a few days back in a move many expected to happen.
The Proteas are currently involved in a Test series against the visiting Bangladesh and some of the players have come out strongly against the proposed four-day match.
South Africa opener Dean Elgar, who recently scored 199 in the hosts’ 333-run win in the first Test, voiced his staunch opposition to the idea
“I’m a five-day specialist and Test cricket must stay that way, they mustn’t tinker with something that’s not broken. The other formats have been experimented with and now it looks like Test cricket will be the scapegoat. It should not be allowed to suffer.
“That’s the duration of the game and we should not start disrespecting it, and Test cricket should also only be played with the red ball. I know people will point to the size of the crowds, but that’s all about who you’re playing against, that’s what it boils down to. And you need the big names to attract people. “I believe Test cricket is the wrong format to interfere with, they should keep it as it is because it’s not broken,” Elgar said.
Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis echoed the sentiments of Elgar on being asked on his thoughts on the four-day format.
“Having four-day Tests would be tricky, I’m a fan of five-day Tests. The great Tests are the ones that finish in the last hour of the fifth day, that’s what makes the format so special. If there’s a fifth day, you have to really graft, the bowlers have a lot more work and the batsmen have to graft for longer.
“It’s been proved over and over again that day five is needed, but I guess four-day Tests might lead to more creative, aggressive captaincy. But Test cricket is about how long you can go for and how long your skill sets can last. There are also workload issues because there would be more overs in a day and more use of seamers. The players are all used to five-day Tests,” Du Plessis told reporters.
The CSA’s proposal for official status for the four-day day/night at Port Elizabeth will be put before the International Cricket Council in their board meeting at Auckland next week.