Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood ruled out of opening Test against South Africa


BRISBANE: Australia will be without a key bowler Josh Hazlewood for the opening Test against South Africa in Brisbane as Men in Yellow revealed a 14-player squad for the opening game of the series against the Proteas,” Cricket Australia (CA) announced on Monday.

The veteran pacer Hazlewood is still dealing with a side strain and is out of the match starting on Saturday at The Gabba, but the team’s selectors are optimistic that captain Pat Cummins will recover from his quad injury and be cleared to play.
Hazlewood and Cummins were absent from Australia’s convincing 419-run victory over the West Indies in Adelaide, but other pacers Michael Neser and Scott Boland filled in well.

George Bailey, the chief selector, claims that Cummins is close to making a comeback but Hazlewood is still having difficulty recovering from a side ailment.

“Pat continues to improve, bowled with freedom on Saturday and appears likely to play this match although Josh will need more time. With that in mind we have retained Michael Neser and Lance Morris in the squad for this match. Michael bowled superbly in Adelaide, as did Scott. We were impressed as always with their performances that backed up what they have achieved in the past,” George Bailey said in a statement released by CA.

“Lance is a very exciting prospect who will benefit from time with the squad. With so much cricket ahead, we continue to seek opportunities to grow and maintain our fast-bowling experience and depth,” Bailey further added.

In their quest to qualify for the ICC World Test Championship final at The Oval next year, both nations view the three-match series against South Africa as important.

Australia increased their lead at the top of the World Test Championship standings with a convincing 2-0 series sweep of the West Indies, while South Africa maintained the second position. Australia squad for first Test v South Africa: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Michael Neser, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and David Warner. (ANI) 

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