Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will both be rested from Australia’s upcoming one-day tour of South Africa. Cricket Australia confirmed on Friday that the pair would not be named in the squad “to allow them time to refresh ahead of the Australian summer”. The move comes after captain Steven Smith flew home during the ODI series in Sri Lanka to give him a break ahead of the South Africa tour and home summer.
The first Test of Australia’s home season – against South Africa in Perth – begins three weeks after the last ODI in Cape Town. Starc and Hazlewood are Australia’s two leading Test fast bowlers and will be key members of Smith’s attack for the six home Tests against South Africa and Pakistan, and the four in India that follow.
Hazlewood will return home immediately from the tour of Sri Lanka, having not been named in the T20 squad and with the ODI series already having been won. No fast bowler has delivered more international overs than Hazlewood’s 509.4 over the past year, and of all bowlers only England offspinner Moeen Ali has sent down more balls.
Starc will stay on in Sri Lanka for the last match of the one-day series and the two T20s that follow. Starc had a long injury lay-off in the first half of 2016 as he recovered from ankle surgery, returning to action in June during the one-day tri-series in the West Indies. However, despite being sidelined for six months from late November, Starc is Australia’s leading international wicket taker of the past year.
“Both Mitchell and Josh have had big tours of Sri Lanka and have a heavy workload ahead of them with ten Tests to be played this summer,” national selector Rod Marsh said. “As such, it is important they are managed appropriately and we believe missing the tour of South Africa is the right time for them to take a break.
“This also provides a good opportunity for some of our up-and-coming fast-bowler to push for selection. With a number of bowlers currently coming back from injury it is important for us to continue to build up a battery of quality fast-bowlers for Australia.”
Nathan Coulter-Nile will miss the series due to a back injury, but Victorian pair John Hastings and Scott Boland will likely be part of the squad after joining the group in Sri Lanka, where Hastings claimed a career-best 6 for 45 on Wednesday.
James Faulkner will remain a key ODI pace bowler, while other contenders for a call-up could include South Australian pair Kane Richardson and Daniel Worrall, currently playing for Australia A in a one-day series in Queensland, and Victoria’s Chris Tremain, who did not play at all in last year’s Matador Cup but began the one-day A series with consecutive five-wicket hauls.
Australia’s tour of South Africa begins with a one-off ODI against Ireland in Benoni on September 27, followed by five ODIs against South Africa in Centurion, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.