SPORTS

Hazlewood returns for last three Tests, Cummins available for Melbourne

Josh Hazlewood has returned to Australia’s squad for the remainder of the Ashes, while captain Pat Cummins is available again for Melbourne following his Covid-enforced absence in Adelaide.

Australia have named a 15-player group to cover the Melbourne, Sydney, and Hobart matches, which includes all those who featured in the second Test along with Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Swepson.

Hazlewood was ruled out of Adelaide with a side strain he sustained at the Gabba. He was replaced by Jhye Richardson with Michael Neser then being handed a last-minute debut when Cummins was forced to withdraw on the morning of the game.

Naming the squad for all three remaining Tests would appear to be a show of faith in opener Marcus Harris, who has struggled so far, although Khawaja could be considered as an opener.

Mitchell Starc has appeared to be battling a back problem during England’s second innings – although it has not affected his performance – which may put a question mark against him for Melbourne given the tight turnaround between matches.

If any of Australia’s big three quicks are not available for the third Test, it will be a decision between Richardson and Neser to fill the breach. Neser took a wicket with the second ball of his Test career and produced an excellent spell to claim Dawid Malan on the fourth evening. Richardson was expensive in the first innings but bowled excellently in the second innings with a brute of a delivery removing Haseeb Hameed.

The Melbourne pitch for this year’s Ashes Test will likely be very different to the one which produced a tame draw in 2017-18. The surface has improved in recent seasons, and there was significant life in the Sheffield Shield pitch earlier in the summer.

The SCG, the venue for the fourth Test, produced a draw last season against India when the visitors were able to bat out the final day. This series will then conclude with a second day-night match in Hobart following the shift away from Perth due to border restrictions.

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (capt), Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.

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