The prospect of Australia fielding their four furious fast bowlers in the Magellan Ashes series grows fainter by the day.
For starters, Australia head coach Darren Lehmann confirmed chief spinner Nathan Lyon will play in the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba on November 23 after the NSW offie captured a stunning 22 wickets in the two-Test tour of Bangladesh this month.
Secondly, of the ‘Big Four’ quicks, only Pat Cummins is currently active as Josh Hazlewood (side), Mitchell Starc (foot) and James Pattinson (back) recover from their respective injuries.
And as recently as last week, speaking at the 2017-18 MILO Junior Cricket season launch in Sydney, Hazlewood admitted the stellar form of Lyon and the composition of the Test XI will likely see one of his fast-bowling brethren miss out.
"The way Nathan has bowled it’s been absolutely fantastic the last couple of years," Hazlewood told cricket.com.au.
"Just for the balance of the team it’s always handy to have a spinner there and probably only fit three quicks in."
Should the ‘Big Four’ all be available for selection, it would be mighty tempting unleash the rapid quartet on an English batting group light on international experience.
Captain Joe Root and his predecessor Alastair Cook will be England’s batting pillars during their Ashes campaign, but around them are fledgling Test batsmen Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley and Dawid Malan.
The three newcomers each made their Test debut this northern summer, and while England won both series against South Africa (3-1) and West Indies (2-1), each of the rookie trio failed to score a century and cement their spot in the line-up.
Their next Test assignment will be against Australia in Brisbane on what is traditionally a lively surface, and Hazlewood wants to be bowling to England’s fresh faces as soon as possible.
"(England) have got a couple of experienced guys at the top but through that middle order is a little bit inexperienced" Hazlewood said.
"The earlier we can get those guys in and out in the middle the better.
"They’re obviously going to rely a bit on Cook and Root so there’s some quality players there so it’s going to be hard yards."
Hazlewood appeared relaxed when discussing the side injury that ruled him out midway through the first Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka last month.
The right-armer said there is "plenty of time" left to be fit for the Ashes, and will likely make a return to elite cricket in the back end of the JLT One-Day Cup or the start of the JLT Sheffield Shield.
"It’s just a regulation side strain, fairly common for a quick," he said.
"But it’s going along really well.
"It’s been a bit over two weeks now so probably another two or three weeks and start bowling."