Nathan Coulter-Nile will not feature in this year’s Indian Premier League, but the paceman remains a strong contender for a spot in Australia’s World Cup squad, which is set to be revealed Monday.
Royal Challengers Bangalore announced Friday that Dale Steyn had been drafted into their squad to replace Coulter-Nile, who had yet to link up with the struggling franchise this season.
The 31-year-old quick, one of a number of players sweating on a potential World Cup call-up, has had family commitments in Perth following recent one-day series abroad against India and Pakistan.
It's understood Coulter-Nile's fitness for the World Cup is not in question despite RCB's decision to replace him.
The right-armer's spot in Australia's squad of 15 could hinge on whether Josh Hazlewood, who is recovering from a back injury, and Jhye Richardson, who hurt his shoulder while fielding against Pakistan last month, are deemed fit for the tournament.
Regardless of whether he wins a World Cup spot, Coulter-Nile is expected to be closely monitored by Cricket Australia over the coming months given current injury concerns among their fast-bowling pool and the sheer volume of cricket this winter.
Mitchell Starc (pectoral muscle) is on the comeback trail from injury having sat out both the India and Pakistan tours.
Pat Cummins, meanwhile, has been carefully managed after getting through the home Test summer unscathed, playing just one match out of five in the UAE last month.
An Australia A tour of the United Kingdom will run concurrently with the World Cup in June and July, culminating in an Australia A v Australia four-day match in Hampshire that serves as the Test side's final tune-up ahead of the Ashes, beginning in August.
Coach and selector Justin Langer said last month he's been impressed by the likes of Coulter-Nile, Richardson, Jason Behrendorff and Kane Richardson, who have stood up in the absence of Starc and Hazlewood this year.
Recalled to the ODI side in November, Coulter-Nile has collected 11 wickets in his past six ODIs and his strike-power is underlined by the fact he's only gone wicketless twice in his 27-game career.
"What's most pleasing is a lot of other guys have stepped up," Langer said. "There's actually some good depth of talent now. It's not just about three bowlers.
"There's a number of guys who we could easily select. So I'm not as concerned now, we've got some more confidence in the other guys."
Coulter-Nile's absence is a blow for the battling RCB franchise, who are winless after six IPL games despite boasting a top-order featuring the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Moeen Ali and Marcus Stoinis.
RCB have found an able replacement in Steyn, however. The 35-year-old South African has gone unsold in the past two IPL auctions despite his pedigree, with his last involvement in the lucrative tournament coming with defunct franchise Gujarat Lions in 2016.