Cummins, Hazlewood no locks for fifth Test: Langer
Coach and selectors weigh up fatigue and freshness of fast-bowling group ahead of final Ashes Test at The Oval
Sam Ferris in London
11 September 2019, 08:39 AM AEST
Australia are yet to decide on the makeup of their fast-bowling attack for the final Ashes Test at The Oval, but in-form pair Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood are not certain starters.
Cummins has endured a marathon northern summer, featuring in all 10 of Australia's World Cup matches, playing in every Ashes Test and bowling the most overs of any fast bowler in the series.
The 26-year-old is the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes with 24 from 164.1 overs, while Hazlewood has been just as impressive with 18 wickets in three Tests.
But the physical and emotional toll of the entire campaign, the fourth Test win at Old Trafford – which ended in the final hour on day five and ensured Australia retained the Ashes – and the three-day turnaround between Tests has the selectors, including coach Justin Langer, weighing up whether it is best to give pick a fresh attack for the series finale.
"They (Cummins and Hazlewood) know it's a big game, big Test match, but we'll see how they pull up," Langer said on Tuesday.
"They obviously didn't do anything today (at practice) – they'll have a light day tomorrow. But it's taking its toll.
"Joe Root said before the series, there's going to be some fatigue in both camps after the World Cup.
"Now we're in the last week of a four-and-a-half month stint, there's certainly some fatigue there – mental and physical.
"So we'll weigh that up over the next two days, to see if those guys play or not."
Langer added: "We've got a couple of fresh, healthy fast bowlers who are jumping out of their skin to play.
"We've got to work out who has the most energy – we've got plenty of skill there – to get the job done."
While Australia selectors have interchanged the pace attack for each Test depending on conditions and fatigue, Cummins has remained the one constant this series alongside the spin option of Nathan Lyon.
Langer said ahead of the second Test at Lord's he would love to see Cummins play all five Tests but conceded it might not be "humanly possible".
The vice-captain entered the tour as the No.1 Test bowler in the world and has increased his lead at the top of the official ICC rankings, which makes it even more difficult when considering leaving him out of a Test Australia must not lose to win the Ashes on foreign soil for the first time in 18 years.
"It becomes tough because Pat Cummins is the No.1 fast bowler in the world," Langer said. "He's the leading wicket-taker in this series.
"Josh has had a huge impact in the games he's played.
"It's got nothing to do with the issues of management; you want your best players playing all the time. That's where the complexity lies as much as how we're going to manage them."
Should one or both of Cummins and Hazlewood miss out at The Oval, waiting in the wings are Victorians Peter Siddle and James Pattinson and uncapped Queenslander Michael Neser.
Siddle played the first two Tests while Pattinson played at Edgbaston and Headingley, and has been carefully managed in his comeback series in international cricket.
While the pace attack still requires assembly, Langer confirmed Lyon will play at The Oval despite splitting his spinning finger in Manchester.
"He'll be fine," Langer said. "He's pretty tough. His finger is a bit sore but he'll be fine."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia won by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's
Third Test: England won by one wicket at Headingley
Fourth Test: Australia won by 185 runs at Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval