Josh Hazlewood appears almost certain to miss a second straight Ashes Test with Australia’s opening bowler on ice in Melbourne.
Just two days out from the Boxing Day Test start, Hazlewood did not bowl in the MCG nets on Friday and spent time talking to physios.
Instead, Jhye Richardson joined Mitchell Starc and the returning Pat Cummins in the same net in the team’s last full training session before play.
The trio are expected to line up against England at the MCG, as Australia try to wrap up the Ashes in three Tests.
Australia are however hopeful of having Hazlewood return for the New Years’ Test at the SCG, starting January 5.
“I haven’t spoke to the guys for this game but definitely lock him in for Sydney,” allrounder Cameron Green said.
Green meanwhile has no concerns on his own fitness or ability to bowl long spells.
Stand-in skipper Steve Smith admitted after the win in Adelaide he had been advised to try and not bowl Green on day five to manage his workload.
Justin Langer has since moved to clarify there are no extra concerns around the 22-year-old, who has previously had back issues.
“They just thought we can probably get through the game without bowling me and keep me fresh for (Melbourne),” Green said.
“I was fine and ready to go.
“We were in a really good position, Nathan Lyon was bowling great from one end and we’ve got three world-class pace bowlers to choose from.”
Green does shape as a threat for Australia at the MCG.
He has removed Joe Root twice this series, edging him off in both Brisbane and Adelaide to balls well outside the off stump.
England have stressed the importance of playing with more patience in the third Test, with too many batsman edging balls they could have left.
But Root’s stroke play outside off has long been one of his biggest weapons, particularly at home on wickets that lack the bounce of Australia’s.
Root is also well aware of the issue, batting with a fourth stump behind him in the nets this week to have better awareness of his own positioning.
“I played two poor shots to him,” Root said.
“He brings an extra bit of bounce and the danger you can get sucked into in Australia is it doesn’t do as much as it does in England.
“So you feel like you can play at balls more frequently.
“That’s what’s most frustrating, making that mistake twice in two games.”
But Green himself is not ready to claim he has it over the England captain just yet, despite teammates regularly reminding him of his record.
“I just have very simple plans to him. Just keep it tight from one end and let the other guys do their job,” Green said.
“I’ve just got lucky a couple of times.”