Starc, Hazlewood on track ahead of Ashes

Three of Australia's so-called "big four" fast bowling weapons are expected to be fit and firing in time to launch an all-out assault on the Ashes.

 

Mitchell Starc has been named to return for NSW on Friday in the domestic one-day competition for his first match since June.

The left-arm paceman has recovered from the foot injuries that cut short his Test tour of India in March and hampered his Champions Trophy campaign.

After shouldering a heavy workload in a gruelling series on the subcontinent, Australia have opted to rest Pat Cummins for the T20 internationals against India.

He is targeting NSW's three Sheffield Shield matches leading up to the Ashes.

Australian bowling coach David Saker confirmed Starc and Josh Hazlewood would also play first-class cricket before the series with England.

"Whether the fast bowlers play all three of those we'll wait and see," Saker said.

"Three Shield games to shape the Australian team - it's going to be good for everybody."

Fitness appears to be the only thing standing in the way of Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Nathan Lyon being picked as the Australian bowlers for the first Test in Brisbane.

Victorian spearhead James Pattinson is still recovering from his latest setback.

"Three of them we know are on track," Saker said.

"James Pattinson's had a little setback but we're not sure how bad at the moment.

"Josh Hazlewood is on track to play the first Test. Mitchell Starc's going really well and Patty's obviously flying."

Things are less clear on the batting front.

The No.6 spot is up for grabs, with incumbent Glenn Maxwell on shaky ground after being dropped during the ODI series in India.

Matthew Wade's position as wicketkeeper is also far from safe and he will be desperate for runs when he returns home to play for Tasmania this season.

"The players that play the first three Shield games, if they put their hand up they're a chance to grab a spot," Saker said.

"You think the incumbents would be first chance but I think if some people put some good runs on the board there's a chance for someone else."

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