Justin Langer has addressed Cricket Australia’s board about the challenges of playing the sport in the COVID-19 era amid an alarming injury toll ahead of the four-Test series.
Australia suffered a six-wicket loss to India in the second Twenty20, meaning the tourists will shoot for a fourth consecutive win over Langer’s team when they clash in Sydney on Tuesday night.
The vast majority of Australia’s Test squad were then expected to relocate to Adelaide, bypassing a pink-ball tour game between Australia A and India at the SCG that starts on Friday.
But Langer, reeling from a week of injury hell that started with David Warner’s groin strain, admits it is now “very, very tempting” for more players to stay in Sydney for what could be an all-star dress rehearsal for the first Test.
Mitch Swepson, who was preparing to play the tour game that started on Sunday when he received a call to rush to Canberra for a T20 after Ashton Agar tweaked his calf, is one Test squad member whose plans have already been rejigged.
Nathan Lyon has also recently been called into Australia’s T20 squad.
Warner, Agar, Pat Cummins (rested), Josh Hazlewood (back), Mitchell Starc (family reasons), Aaron Finch (glute) were all unavailable for the second T20.
Marcus Stoinis returned from his side strain on Sunday, but did not bowl.
Stand-in skipper Matthew Wade suggested Hazlewood was being given a “bit of rest”, having played all four preceding white-ball games.
Hazlewood is among Australia’s IPL stars who had a unique preparation for the home summer, spending a fortnight in hotel quarantine after a long couple of months in overseas biosecurity bubbles.
“I actually addressed the CA board the other day, one of the challenges we’ve got with such tight schedules … we’ve got six injuries now, which is really unusual,” Langer said.
“We’ll obviously review it.
“That’s one of the challenges moving forward, when guys are playing all the tours (and have) different sorts of preparations.
“Each injury has its own individual reasons but that’s one of the challenges. There’s other challenges.”
Hazlewood and Cummins have to quickly build up sufficient workloads for a big Test summer.
Langer fired back at suggestions he should have recalled Cummins on Sunday night, declaring it wasn’t possible, nor a good idea.
“Some of the simplicity of our past lives is not there. There has to be isolation (periods before joining the squad) … we couldn’t bring him back,” Langer said.
“We’re always considering the big picture. We know we’ve got a big Test series coming up.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Pat not playing but … if he hadn’t spent a few days at home in this period then he might not have gone home until June.”
Cummins flew out for Australia’s tour of England in August.
“For any critics out there, imagine not going home for that period of time,” Langer said.
“We’re going to manage him and make sure we’re ready for the Test series.”