Pat Cummins injury takes fresh twist as Aussies spring selection shock

Pictured left to right, WA quick Lance Morris and Australia's Test captain Pat Cummins.
WA quick Lance Morris (L) has been called into Australia's Test squad as cover for captain Pat Cummins, who is battling a quad injury. Pic: Getty

The injury concern surrounding captain Pat Cummins has thrown up a stunning development for Australia's Test side, with Western Australia quick Lance Morris earning a shock call-up ahead of the second Test against the West Indies, starting in Adelaide on Thursday. Cummins suggested he would be fit for the match, despite not featuring at all with the ball on day five of the opening Test in Perth, which the Aussies won by 164-runs.

Morris - who is the leading Sheffield Shield wicket taker this season - is also the fastest quick in Australian cricket, consistently bowling at speeds of more than 150km/h. The 24-year-old has best match figures of 9-82 against NSW this season and his competition-leading 27 wickets have come at an average of just over 18.

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The fast bowler played a pivotal role in WA's Sheffield Shield-winning campaign last season and has looked in fine touch again this season for the table-topping Warriors. Morris (3-22) was the pick of WA's bowlers on Sunday, during the drawn Shield clash against Queensland at the Gabba.

The WA quick is one of only two current Aussie bowlers - along with Tasmanian quick Riley Meredith - that consistently clocks more than 150km/h. While his frightening pace would be a handful for the Windies' batsmen in Adelaide, Morris is deemed unlikely to be named in Australia's starting XI, having been selected more for squad cover.

Morris has already flown to Adelaide to join the rest of the Australian Test squad, with Queensland quick Michael Neser - who played his solitary Test in Adelaide last year - also called up to the squad. Victoria quick Scott Boland - who entered Ashes folklore by claiming 6/7 on Test debut at the MCG last year - is understood to be first in line to replace Cummins if the skipper is ruled out.

Cummins looked ginger in the field and didn't bowl at all on day five against the Windies in Perth after nursing a quadriceps complaint. However, speaking after Australia's first Test win, he played down any injury concerns ahead of Adelaide. "I was pain free," he said. "Luckily we were in a good position so we could take the liberties (of not bowling)."

With the second and final Test against the West Indies followed by three against South Africa and a tour to India in the New Year, the Aussies would be silly to risk their captain and fast bowling lynchpin.

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"It was definitely the thought process the last couple of days," Cummins said. I don't really want to turn a one week injury into a three or four-week injury and you potentially miss the summer. So we'll weigh all that up.

"But I felt pretty comfortable out there. Give it a few days. It already feels pretty good. Our physio might be less optimistic but I think I'll be fine. I'm sure I'll have running and a bit of bowling to make sure I'm right."

Cummins said he will test out the troublesome quad during Australia's training sessions in Adelaide on Monday. "I guess (normally) I'll have a similar prep to Josh (Hazlewood) and (Mitchell) Starc which would be maybe a light bowl the day before," he said.

Seen here, Australia's captain Pat Cummins looks on during day five of the first Test against West Indies in Perth.
Australia's captain Pat Cummins did not bowl on day five of the first Test against West Indies after nursing a quad complaint. Pic: Getty

"Now might be a bit different. Got to probably prove myself - have at least one bowl. Every Test match is always slightly different prep. I'm not too bothered. Hopefully I pass the fitness test and I'm good to go."

Steve Smith is in line to once again be handed Australia's Test captaincy role if Cummins is ruled out. Josh Hazlewood, who captained Australia in a recent ODI against England when Cummins was rested, also looms as a potential skipper. David Warner, who was handed a lifetime leadership ban for his role in the sandpaper scandal, could also captain the Aussies at some stage in the future after Cricket Australia changed its code of conduct to allow him to appeal that decision.

with agencies

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