Aussies tossing up bizarre late switch for Boxing Day Test

Australia coach Justin Langer is weighing up a Boxing Day selection surprise as he considers picking five bowlers in a bid to combat expected batsman-friendly conditions at the MCG.

Fiery quick James Pattinson will return as a replacement for the injured Josh Hazlewood in the second Test against New Zealand, with fellow fast bowlers Michael Neser and Peter Siddle waiting in the wings.

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Travis Head would likely be the unlucky batsman to miss out if a fifth bowler is named, while in-form opener David Warner has been declared fit to play despite sustaining a thumb injury at training.

Langer is wary of the batting paradises that have greeted teams in recent Test matches in Melbourne and will wait to inspect the pitch on the morning of Boxing Day before deciding his line-up.

Travis Head and Pat Cummins of Australia look on during the Bupa Family Day at the Yarra Parklands on December 23, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

"The only reason we'd do it (play five bowlers) is if the wicket looks anything like it has the last few years here on the Boxing Day Test match, because you have to get 20 wickets," Langer said.

"It would be no surprise to anyone the Australian team doesn't usually go down that path of having the extra bowler.

"But if we were to play on wickets like we've played on the last two years or so here at the MCG, we've certainly got to find a way of taking 20 wickets.

"There's been so much discussion about the wicket here and we're hopeful that's not the case.

"But if we were to turn up on Boxing Day and it looked really flat, we've certainly got the flexibility to do it."

Australia used all-rounder Mitch Marsh as a fifth bowling option in Melbourne in both last summer's loss to India and the pedestrian Ashes draw a year earlier.

Cummins not convinced

However, Aussie quick Pat Cummins wasn't convinced another specialist bowler was required after three wins in as many Test matches this summer.

"Most of the games here go into day five and I can't see it being too different this year," Cummins said.

"I've got no idea what the selectors and Painey (captain Tim Paine) are thinking about in terms of the bowlers.

"Whether we've only got four or five, I think we'll get the job done.

"It's lucky now Marnus (Labuschagne) is bowling really well, Wadey (Matthew Wade) thinks he can bowl and Nathan Lyon can bowl 25 or 30 overs in a day.

"Whatever the team is, I feel like we've got all bases covered."

A flat pitch would suit former vice-captain Warner, who Langer declared a certain starter despite taking a blow to his left thumb during Monday's nets session.

The robust opener has been in superb touch at home this summer, topped by his unbeaten 325 against Pakistan in Adelaide.

On Tuesday, Warner faced about 45 minutes of throw-downs from batting coach Graeme Hick and spin bowling coach Sridharan Sriram.

But he appeared in some discomfort when he regularly took his left hand off the bat quickly after striking the ball.

Warner did not face a bowler during the nets session.

"It's not unusual for Davey to do that," Langer said.

"He's in really good nick, he's a very experienced player now and he knows how to prepare.

"As I said, I've got absolutely no worries that he'll be raring to go."