Australia will unleash one of two untried bowlers in opening Test in India

Unleashing one or two fast bowlers untried in the subcontinent against India this week holds no fears for an Australian squad prepared to share the load in a packed year of Test cricket.

Regular first-choice paceman Josh Hazlewood is set to miss the opening test in Nagpur with a lingering achilles issue he said was hampered by a soft SCG surface against South Africa in January, which was his first outing of the home summer.

The 59-Test quick conceded he was frustrated at the stop-start nature of his time in a baggy green, having played just three Tests since December 2021.

His ongoing absence opened the door first for Scott Boland, who charged through with success and looms as captain Pat Cummins’ likely bowling partner in Nagpur on Thursday should Australia only play two fast bowlers.

But West Australian firebrand Lance Morris has also spent the past month practising the one-weapon the quicks need to master in the subcontinent – reverse swing – in a bid to push his claims.

Cummins declared on the weekend that playing just two seam bowlers and two spinners in the match was “not a given”, which could give rise to Boland and Morris potentially playing in the same team.

That turnstile of fast bowlers is a scenario Hazlewood said the “cartel” of quicks in the Australian squad had spoken about, and come to terms with, given the four-test India tour is followed by a five-Test Ashes in England, with the World Test Championship to come too.

That’s 10 Tests in the next six months, and Hazlewood declared there was enough confidence in Australia’s fast-bowling depth, with Michael Neser left at home and Jhye Richardson to come back from a hamstring strain, for anyone who is not 100 per cent, to step aside comfortably.

“It might hurt that particular series, or you might not be 100 per cent, but in the long term you might be better placed for an Ashes or a home Test summer,” Hazlewood said.

“We have such good depth, if you’re not quite right you can miss a Test and make sure you are 100 per cent for the next one.

“It’s a team mentality, especially the team within a team with the quicks, that’s the mentality that will be taken in to the Ashes, World Test Championship, home summer … there’s so many Tests coming up, it might be easier to get right for the second one here and push on.

“It’s just about summing up what’s right and how much you can do.”

Hazlewood said he would continue to talk to medical and coaching staff about his workload as a three-format player because Test matches remained his priority and he’s missed too many of late.

“As fun as T20 is and as lucrative as it is, I find it still plays second fiddle to Test cricket,” he said.

“This series, Ashes series, home summers are what you play cricket for. I don’t think that will ever change.

“I‘ve chatted with guys at Cricket Australia, Cricket NSW … to get a plan together (to manage his body). It’s probably about short-term loss versus long-term gain a lot of the time.

“You’ve got a T20 World Cup or an IPL or a one-day series, it’s about still ticking those boxes off the field to be ready to go for a Test series.”

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