Australia dropped fast bowler James Pattinson from a 12-man squad for the second Ashes test against England starting at Lord’s on Wednesday, with Josh Hazlewood coming in as likely replacement.
Fellow quick Mitchell Starc, the left armer who was also overlooked for the first test won by Australia at Edgbaston, also made the squad but could end up carrying the drinks once the playing lineup is named at the toss.
Spearhead Pat Cummins and Peter Siddle, who made up the pace trio with Pattinson in the 251-run opening victory, retained their places.
Captain Tim Paine told reporters Pattinson was left out as part of long-term planning, with the choice between Hazlewood and Starc.
“Whichever one of those two we unleash tomorrow, they are certainly ready to go,” he said.
Hazlewood is seen as the likeliest replacement based on performances in a tour match against Worcestershire last week.
Edgbaston was Pattinson’s first test in three and a half years, after he suffered back injuries and then underwent surgery, and he took two wickets.
“He’s available for selection but we’ve decided to rest him for this game and make sure that his long term future is in really good shape,” explained Paine.
“He’s come back off a really long layoff, a really serious operation, and we want to make sure that he’s truly right for the next three or four years.
The third Ashes test at Yorkshire’s Headingley ground in Leeds comes as a quick turnaround from Lord’s, with play starting on Aug. 22.
“It was always going to be one way or the other,” said Paine. “He would miss this test and be fresher for the third test or he has this one after the long break and doesn’t play in the third.
“I think if you look at Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood’s records at Lord’s, it’s a good venue for one of those to come in and play and be confident in the fact that they can bowl really well here.”
Starc played all five tests on the 2015 Ashes tour and finished as the highest wicket-taker in the 50-overs World Cup last month.
The weather could be a factor in who gets the nod, with rain possible throughout Wednesday.
“There’s not set combinations, we sort of come in the morning and have a look and go with a bit of a gut feel. You try and make the best possible decision that you can when you have a look at the conditions you’re faced with,” said Paine.
Australia’s victory at Edgbaston was their first in the opening test of an away Ashes series since 2005.
England’s Barbados-born fast bowler Jofra Archer will be making his test debut on Wednesday, and Paine said Australia would be ready for whatever he delivered.
“A lot of our guys have seen Jofra or faced him, obviously it’s been in white ball cricket, but we’ve faced him in Australia where conditions really suit fast bowling. I think we’ve seen him at his fastest,” he said.
“There’s times where he’s going to be a real threat and we’re going to have to weather that.”
David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (captain, wicket keeper), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.