Mitch Marsh will miss the first Test against Pakistan after breaking his hand, opening the door for fellow Western Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis to come into Test contention.
Australian selector Mark Waugh has lamented the length of the limited-overs tour of India with the Ashes around the corner.
Australia have been competing against India in one-day internationals since September 17 ahead of wrapping up the Twenty20 series on Friday.
For some players, including vice-captain David Warner, it’s been back-to-back tours after the two-Test series in Bangladesh in September, with just a short break before the Sheffield Shield season begins on October 26.
Waugh, who’s travelling India with the side, would have preferred players have more time off ahead of the Australian summer and a longer preparation for red-ball cricket.
“It’s got to be said, it’s not an ideal time to be away from Australia,” Waugh told Sky Sports Radio on Thursday.
“This series has been a bit spread out. It would have been better probably if it was a week or two shorter.”
The retired batting great said the early departures from the subcontinent of captain Steve Smith and fast bowlers Mitchell Star and Pat Cummins were a blessing.
He praised the scheduling of three Shield matches before the Ashes begin in Brisbane on November 23.
“Once they get home, they’ll have a little break then they’ll be back focused on red ball cricket, then the Ashes,” Waugh said.
“The players are pretty much used to it; it’s probably more the travelling, flying around.
“This one-day tournament and T20 tournament has been to about eight different places, so there’s been a lot of travel.
“But I think they’re coping pretty well.
“Obviously Steve Smith going home might be a blessing in disguise, a bit of a freshen-up. He’s got a heavy workload, as do a lot of the players.
“We’ll be right. Those three Shield matches will have us in good stead for the Ashes.”
Waugh also shed light on selectors’ inclination for the No.6 batting position for the Ashes — one of two places he confirmed are undecided.
The other is Matthew Wade as wicketkeeper.
Waugh said with few options for a genuine allrounder, a batsman who bowls part-time is the likely preference for No.6, identifying Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Hilton Cartwright and Travis Head as candidates.
“The number one priority is batting,” Waugh said.
“I’m not calling it an allrounder. It’s probably more a batting allrounder.
“You’re getting your best batsman anyway and if they can bowl a bit that’s a bonus.
“I don’t think the out-and-out genuine allrounder’s there, given Mitch Marsh is coming back from a shoulder injury.”