Australia have left pace bowler James Pattinson out of their 12-man squad for the second Ashes Test against England, with Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood vying for recalls.
Pattinson was part of the team that won by 251 runs at Edgbaston, taking two wickets on his first Test appearance in almost three years.
Cricket Australia confirmed all players were available for selection, but, with Pattinson’s longstanding fitness problems and the next two Tests coming back to back, the decision to stand him down appears to be a case of workload management.
Regardless, they are selecting from a position of strength. Left-arm quick Starc was the top wicket-taker at the recent World Cup with 27 and Hazlewood was left out of the tournament entirely to get him fit and ready for this series.
BREAKING: Australia's XII for the Lord's Test:— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) August 13, 2019
Tim Paine (c/wk), David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood #Ashes
The latter is understood to be winning the selection battle after tuning up with three for 34 in last week’s tour match at Worcester, but the final decision will not be revealed until the toss.
Speaking on Monday, head coach Justin Langer spoke of the good luck Australia had in having all of their pace attack ready to go.
“What is fortunate at the moment is we’ve got six fit and healthy fast bowlers,” he said.
“I’ve been coaching for about 10 years now and I can’t ever remember having that luxury, but it could change like that so we’re not getting carried away with it.
“The fact that we had Josh and Mitch on the bench in the last Test match, it doesn’t happen very often.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
While they had to face heartbreak in the final of the 2019 ICC World Cup in England, New Zealand now have a chance to go top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time in history as they get ready to square-off against Sri Lanka in a two-match series.
The No2 ranked Black Caps can secure the top ranking in the format should they beat the hosts 2-0 in the upcoming series but they will also need Windies to avert a series clean sweep by India at the same time.
If the Kiwis are able to win both upcoming Tests and top-ranked India fail to win even one of their two clashes against West Indies, then it will be Kane Williamson and his men who will ascend to the top of the ranking.
“If that happens that would be great,” New Zealand skipper Williamson was quoted as saying by AFP on the eve of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle.
“But I guess there’s a bigger picture. The thing with rankings is that they just fluctuate throughout a season. For us, we just want to be focusing on the cricket and give ourselves the best chance of success.”
With the inaugural World Test Championship getting underway earlier this month, all teams will have their eyes on making the final which takes place at Lord’s after the completion of a two-year cycle.
For Williamson, the prospect of making the Lord’s final of the Test Championship is more enticing than securing the No1 ranking in the format.
“I think it’s a welcome addition to the Test format, bringing that context into every Test match you play,” the Kiwi stated.
“No matter what team you play at any level it’s very, very competitive.
“But now there’s that added carrot where, in two years’ time, everyone’s vying for a spot in that championship final which would be a really exciting thing to be a part of.”
The first Test between Sri Lanka and New Zealand gets underway at Galle on Wednesday. Meanwhile, West Indies and India will lock horns in a two-Test series which will begin on August 22 at Antigua.
Veteran Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez has been signed for Middlesex on a short-term deal that will see him play three Vitality T20 Blast clashes for the outfit.
Hafeez has been roped in by the Lord’s-based county outfit as a short-term replacement for South African ace AB de Villiers who has taken a brief break from the tournament.
The former Proteas batsman is expected to return for Middlesex’s penultimate league stage clash against Hampshire which is slated to take place on August 29.
Hafeez has only recently completed his stint in the Global T20 Canada with the Edmonton Royals and the Pakistan man is expected to join up with Middlesex ahead of their clash against Essex on Wednesday. He will also be available for the subsequent clashes against Hampshire and Sussex before de Villiers returns to take his place in the squad.
The 38-year-old all-rounder has played 55 Tests, 218 ODIs and 89 T20s for Pakistan over the course of his career and was a part of the side which finished fifth in the 2019 World Cup recently in England.
The experienced veteran was recently excluded from the new central contracts handed out by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) along with Shoaib Malik. While he hung up his Test cricket boots last year, Hafeez is yet to announce his retirement from the limited-overs formats and remains available for selection.
Hafeez will join his compatriot Babar Azam in England for the T20 Blast with the 24-year-old batsman currently leading the run-scoring charts in the competition with 434 runs in nine innings for Somerset at an average of 62.