Aussie big guns in danger of missing Pakistan series
JOSH Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are no guarantees to be fit for Australia's crunch comeback to Test cricket against Pakistan in October.
Already in crisis with Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft banned, Australia's hopes of staying competitive over the next 12 months rely enormously on their fast bowling powerbase.
With the first-choice cartel sidelined for the recent one-day series in England, Australia were destroyed 5-0.
The positive news is Mitchell Starc is near certain to return from a leg problem against Pakistan, but doubts remain over his fellow spearheads, with Hazlewood and Cummins still racing the clock to get back to bowling.
Both must pass a series of scans over the coming weeks to determine whether they can get back into the nets with enough time to prove themselves for a two-Test tour which shapes as an important barometer for how Australia can cope without their two best batsmen.
The importance of building confidence and momentum against Pakistan cannot be underplayed, but at the same time selectors and medicos will be mindful of rushing Hazlewood and Cummins back when there's a huge home summer against India on the horizon.
Spin will of course play a key role in the UAE, but even on turning tracks, it's been proven Australia must have quicks charging in.
Hazlewood said he's hopeful but unsure of his chances of facing Pakistan as he and Cummins' recover from back complaints.
"I think there's some (of us) more confident than others (of returning). I don't want to speak for other people but Starcy is pretty much a certainty and myself and Pat are still waiting on scans in a couple of weeks," Hazlewood said.
"We'll wait to get all the information early August and then we'll go from there.
"It's coming along nicely. Hopefully I'll get to the UAE. Hopefully we're on the improve and good enough to start bowling again."
Hazlewood was dramatically pulled from the England ODI tour just hours before the team boarded the plane.
Cummins was similarly withdrawn at the last minute from playing in April's IPL after returning from the South Africa tour sore.
It was believed both decisions were largely precautionary, but Hazlewood says in his case there was a definite injury.
"There was definitely a hot spot there and I needed (the rest). I think I've had six to eight weeks off bowling and there's still another three to go," he said.
"Hopefully that takes care of it.
"We've got a massive 18 months coming up (World Cup and Ashes next year) and you want to be as good as you can leading into that."
Australia received some positive news on the injury front on Wednesday with Shaun Marsh told he doesn't require shoulder surgery.
The experienced Marsh is suddenly a leader in the top six and should be able to recover in time for the Pakistan tour.