What’s in a nickname?
Paceman Jhye Richardson is set to return from injury this weekend in Darwin and a hasty departure to England for the Ashes could potentially follow.
Richardson will roll his arm over during a club game in the Northern Territory, the young gun’s most significant milestone yet in his recovery from a dislocated shoulder.
The Test incumbent has been largely overlooked in speculation about Australia’s Ashes squad, which will be finalised following this week’s selection showdown in Southampton that involves the nation’s top 24 cricketers.
But coach Justin Langer and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns certainly haven’t forgotten the 22-year-old, who made his Test debut in January and would have been part of Australia’s World Cup campaign if not for an untimely shoulder injury.
Richardson won’t be fully fit in time for Australia’s first Test against England, which starts at Edgbaston on August 1.
But if the right-armer’s return in Darwin is seamless he may then be parachuted into an Ashes tour game in Worcester, scheduled between the first and second Tests.
Hosting the World Cup forced England to squeeze an entire Ashes series into six weeks, making it difficult to envisage Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc playing all five Tests.
The prospect of the frontline trio facing Worcestershire, in a clash starting two days after the first Test is slated to finish, is even slimmer.
Hohns’ panel was expected to name a 16-man touring party but it’s possible an additional player could be included and/or additional reinforcements could be summoned for the game in Worcester.
Langer was coy when asked about the size of the Ashes squad on the eve of this week’s selection trial.
“I’ve got no doubt we’ll have the flexibility we need. I had a good discussion with Belinda (acting head of team performance Belinda Clark),” Langer told reporters.
“We’ve got five Tests to play, a game in Worcester two days after the first Test. We’ll have the flexibility.”
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan, bedazzled by a potent display of swing bowling on Test debut, suggested earlier this year that Richardson must be part of Australia’s XI in England.
“The Richardson style of bowler is exactly what you require,” Vaughan said.
“That first game at Edgbaston, you need consistent movement and that’s exactly why Jhye Richardson will do.”