WA’s Jhye Richardson will miss the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne with a minor leg injury as Victorian Scott Boland is confirmed for a dream debut on his home turf.
Returning Australian captain Pat Cummins, who missed the Adelaide Test because of a COVID scare, said Richardson and Queensland debutant Michael Neser pulled up “a little bit sore” from the 275-run win.
Cummins was confident the right-arm speedster, who grabbed a maiden five-wicket Test haul in the second innings at Adelaide Oval, will be fit for the fourth Test at the SCG, starting on January 5.
New South Wales seamer Josh Hazlewood is also a chance to feature in Sydney after he was ruled out for a second straight match with a side strain picked up in Brisbane.
“He was pretty sore,” Cummins said about Richardson.
“We were umming and ahhing, he had a bowl yesterday but we thought seven days off will give him enough rest.
“He’s got a small leg injury which is nothing major but we thought rather than risking a long-term injury, we’d give him a week off.”
Cummins backed Boland, 32, to have an instant impact at Test level on a ground where he’s taken 91 first-class wickets in 26 matches at an average of 25.71.
The barrel-chested paceman, who has featured 14 times at one-day international level, will become just the second Australian men’s indigenous Test player after fellow quick and current South Australia coach Jason Gillespie.
“We earmarked him as a chance for here and the SCG in particular, we think his record is really well suited,” Cummins said.
“His record speaks for itself here in domestic cricket.
“Home ground, having someone fresh like him who can perform straight away were the big factors.
“He’s really excited obviously, it’s a dream for him to wear the Baggy Green, packed MCG on Boxing Day, it doesn’t get any better.”
Both of Australia’s changes to the XI were bowlers with under-fire opener Marcus Harris’ spot safe as confirmed by coach Justin Langer earlier in the week.
There were concerns over Mitchell Starc’s fitness heading into his third match of the series but the left-arm tearaway, who has taken the equal-most wickets in the series with nine at 21.33, has since been declared fit.
Australia hold a 2-0 series lead and only need a draw at the MCG to retain the Ashes urn against an England side who has made mass changes after back-to-back thrashings.
Australian XI: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wicketkeeper), Pat Cummins (capt), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.