Trust will be put in Josh Hazlewood over his fitness while Mitchell Starc unlikely to be rotated
Hazlewood got through around 35 minutes of gentle bowling in the MCG nets on Thursday, still appearing in some discomfort on return from a side strain.
The session was Hazlewood’s first bowling in almost three weeks, after hurting his side in the Ashes opener at the Gabba and missing the next two Tests.
With the series already wrapped up in Australia’s favour there is some argument that Hazlewood should be given more time to recuperate. But chief selector George Bailey said his panel would not hold Hazlewood back if fit.
“I’ve got pretty good faith in Hoff knowing his own body and trusting his own body,” Bailey said. “He’ll build up as he would before any sort of Test. He’ll talk a lot with [assistant] Andrew McDonald and [physio] David Beakley to see how he’s going. If Hoff’s confident and he says he’s right to go I think we back him in. He’s earned that trust.”
Starc was required to bowl just 25 overs at the MCG and Australia’s early win gave him day four and five off without even bowling in the nets and a week between Tests.
“Your plans are constantly changing because you’ve got no idea how many overs the bowlers are going to bowl,” Bailey said. “So you’ve got to stay pretty fluid around that . Today would have been would have been day five. So our quicks, in particular, not having as heavy a workload as they had in Adelaide and a couple of extra days off will all work in their favour.”
At best there could be room for one of them, creating a tough situation for selectors given Richardson was above Boland in the pecking order before Melbourne.
“That’s a headache. It’s a great headache,” Bailey said. “Obviously some hard conversations to be had at some stage.”
“We’ve got no doubt that, whether it’s at the SCG or whether it’s sometime in the future, that Swepo is ready,” Bailey said. “We’d love nothing more for him to get an opportunity but it will probably be conditions-dependent.”