Australia's deep reserves of fast bowling wealth are diminishing ahead of the Magellan Ashes opener, with left-armer Jason Behrendorff pulled out of Western Australia's JLT Sheffield Shield match against South Australia on Monday.
While Behrendorff is only expected to miss the one game with back soreness, his omission means Australia's pace stocks have been depleted even further following Ashes-ending injuries to Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson.
Having missed the Warriors’ Shield opener, Behrendorff returned for their star-studded clash with NSW last week and pulled up with a back niggle having sent down 34 overs for the match.
"Jason has pulled up with low grade back soreness after the Sheffield Shield game with New South Wales," WACA physiotherapist Nick Jones said in a statement to cricket.com.au.
"He will use the next 10 days to recover and is expected to be fit by Round 4 when the Warriors play Queensland."
Warriors coach Justin Langer added that although Behrendorff may have been capable of playing, he said he wasn't convinced the paceman was fit enough to contribute adequately against the Redbacks.
"Our philosophy with any of the players here at the WACA is you need to be fit to perform rather than fit to play," Langer said.
"Jason would have been fit to play this game but he’ll be ready to perform next round against Queensland."
It leaves the likes of 2013-14 Ashes star Peter Siddle and prolific South Australian Chadd Sayers as the next quicks in line outside of the four seamers who have been pulled out of this Shield round and are presumed inclusions for the first Test squad.
Coulter-Nile has been sidelined for the Ashes with an aggravation of a previous stress fracture, while Pattinson will miss the whole summer and will undergo spinal surgery in a last-ditch bid to mend a recurring, career-threatening stress fracture.
NSW trio Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Tasmanian Jackson Bird have all been withdrawn from this Shield round and are spending the week training at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane. The first Test against England begins across town next Thursday at the Gabba.
Behrendorff has long been touted a potential Test bowler and made his long-awaited international debut on Australia's T20 series in India last month.
The 27-year-old claimed four wickets in 12 balls including India captain Virat Kohli in just his second game and finished with 4-21 in the second T20 in Guwahati.
As a southpaw who swings the ball back into right-hand batsmen, Behrendorff looms as a like-for-like replacement for Test spearhead Starc should injury strike this summer.
"Test cricket is the ultimate prize and wearing the Baggy Green cap is something I'm sure all cricketers aspire to and I certainly do," he said after his four-wicket haul in Guwahati last month.
"That's something I'll be pursuing and doing everything I can to play Test cricket."
2017-18 International Fixtures
Magellan Ashes Series
First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets
Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets
ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets
Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets
T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21