Australia suffer massive blow as Josh Hazlewood ruled out of second Ashes Test

Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of the Adelaide Ashes Test due to a side strain and is in a race to be fit for Boxing Day.

Hazlewood was hurt in Australia’s series-opening win in Brisbane, limited to just 14 overs in England’s second innings.

He returned to Sydney on Sunday for further assessment before it was confirmed he would not be fit in time for the day-night Test starting on Thursday.

Jhye Richardson will be the favourite to be named in the XI for Adelaide, while Michael Neser is another option for selectors.

Australia are more confident on their only other injury concern David Warner – who flew home to Sydney on Sunday to see family after he suffered bruised ribs in the series opener.

But in Hazlewood, Australia have suffered a genuine blow.

Australia’s first-choice attack of Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon have won all six Ashes Tests when playing together.

Hazlewood averages just 19.90 with the ball in day-night Tests, with his 32 wickets in seven matches second only to Starc for pink-ball games.

Fears were first raised over the side injury on Friday, when Hazlewood did not bowl in the second or third sessions as England fought their way back into the first Test.

The tall quick was then sent for scans, before getting the all clear to run in again on Saturday as Australia wrapped up the match.

“He’s a little bit sore … It’s nothing too serious,” captain Cummins said afterwards.

“It wasn’t scary enough to not bowl today.

“It was good he came out today and was able to bowl and get through a really good spell.”

But selectors have long suggested they will take a cautious approach with their fast bowlers this summer, with small turnaround times between the five Tests.

The Gabba Test was Hazlewood’s first red-ball match since April, as he entered the summer off the back of the Twenty20 World Cup success in Dubai.

There is now less than two weeks before the start of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, with Cricket Australia confirming a decision on that match will be made “in due course”.

Australia have a tantalising option in Richardson, who impressed on debut almost three years ago as an out-and-out quick before suffering his own injury setbacks.

But Neser could be considered a better pink-ball exponent, given his ability to swing the ball and after taking 5-29 in the Australia A match against the England Lions last week.