West Australian fast bowler Lance Morris has bolted into Australia’s squad for the second Test against the West Indies.
With Pat Cummins in doubt to play at the Adelaide Oval after sustaining a quad injury in Australia’s first Test win, the 24-year old, regarded as one of the fastest bowlers in the country, was a shock choice as cover should the captain fail to prove his fitness.
“Patty’s obviously the major concern,” coach Andrew McDonald said on Monday. “We erred on the side of caution.
“We had him out there, available (as a chance to bowl on Sunday’s day 5) potentially if we were pushed into a bit of a corner and the game wasn’t going our way, but fortunately, we didn’t have to use him.
“That recovery, in theory, started potentially two days ago. So we feel as though he’s 50-50 for the next Test match at the moment. We can leave it right up to the toss if we want. He’s our captain, we’re going to give him every chance to get out there.”
It is still expected that Scott Boland will replace Cummins should he be unable to play; however, a heavy workload for fellow quicks Mitchell Starc (45 overs) and Josh Hazlewood (43 overs) in Perth could tempt the selectors into resting one or both ahead of a three-Test series against South Africa.
Regular Australian squad member Michael Neser, who made his Test debut replacing Cummins in last summer’s Adelaide Test after he was exposed to COVID-19 on match eve, has also been called into the line-up as cover fellow West Australian speedster Jhye Richardson was unavailable after suffering a heel injury in the Sheffield Shield.
Morris is the leading Shield wicket-taker this summer, claiming 27 scalps at just 18.4 with an impressive strike rate of 33.1.
He turned heads to start the season with a five-wicket haul, and nine for the match, in WA’s opening match against NSW, while he played a key role in the Warriors’ drought-breaking Sheffield Shield triumph last summer.
As little as a fortnight ago, he seemed to be behind Neser, fellow Queenslander Mark Steketee and another West Aussie in Joel Paris, who were all selected to face the Windies in the Prime Minister’s XI tour match.
Chief selector George Bailey said Neser “was simply outstanding in Adelaide last summer”.
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“He has continued to perform incredibly consistently since and will be warmly welcomed back,” said Bailey.
“Lance is another of the outstanding young fast bowlers come through the ranks. He has genuine pace and his ability to create opportunities for wickets is a real draw card. It will be great experience for him to come into the environment.”
Regularly clocking speeds of up to 150km/h, Morris rivals Tasmanian limited-overs specialist Riley Meredith as the quickest bowler in Australia.
Despite looking hampered in the field and unable to bowl in Australia’s second innings, Cummins has insisted he will be fit to play in Adelaide.
“I felt pretty comfortable out there, so give it a few days and it already feels pretty good,” the captain said after play on Day 5 in Perth.
“The physio might be less optimistic, but I think I’ll be fine.”
However, Cummins admitted neither he nor the Australian doctors will take any risks with the star paceman, ahead of the South Africa series as well as an early-2023 tour of India.
“I don’t really want to turn a one-week injury into a three or four-week injury, and potentially miss the summer,” Cummins said.
“So we’ll weigh all that up.”