Josh Hazlewood ruled out of first South Africa Test but captain Cummins likely to play

Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of the series-opening Test against South Africa starting on Saturday as he continues to recover from a side strain, but captain Pat Cummins is likely to return from a quadricep injury.

Both the quicks missed the second Test against West Indies, which Australia won by 419 runs at Adelaide Oval on Sunday to sweep the two-match series 2-0.

Selectors omitted Hazlewood from a 14-man squad named on Monday for the Gabba Test against the Proteas while adding uncapped Western Australia seamer Lance Morris as injury cover.

“Pat continues to improve, bowled with freedom on Saturday and appears likely to play this match although Josh will need more time,” selectors chairman George Bailey said.

In the absence of Hazlewood and Cummins, Michael Neser and Scott Boland took eight wickets between them in Adelaide, where Steve Smith captained the side.

“Michael bowled superbly in Adelaide, as did Scott,” said Bailey. “We were impressed as always with their performances that backed up what they have achieved in the past.”

Hazlewood is now in a race against the clock to play in the second Test on Boxing Day. Cummins said over the weekend that it was a one-to-two-week injury, leaving Hazlewood in some doubt for that match at the MCG.

If he is to miss, there is also no guarantee of him returning for the third and final Test in Sydney, where Australia could play two spinners on a turning wicket. The injury caps a frustrating 12 months for the seamer in red-ball cricket, after he played just one Test in Pakistan and none in Sri Lanka on spin-friendly pitches.

Boland will likely be the favourite to remain in Australia’s XI given his status as the country’s fourth quick. Alternatively Queenslander Neser has the advantage of the Gabba being his home ground, if selectors were to take the pitch into consideration.

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (captain), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Michael Neser, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.