Melbourne Test hero Scott Boland held his place as Australia made only one change to their winning side for the fourth Ashes Test against England in Sydney.
Batter Usman Khawaja was confirmed in the team announced on Tuesday as a replacement for Covid-positive Travis Head. Khawaja last played for Australia in the Headingley Test of the 2019 Ashes series.
Paceman Boland, who was man of the match on Test debut with his 6-7 in Australia’s crushing innings win to clinch the series in Melbourne, kept his place with Josh Hazlewood again unavailable with a side strain.
“Scotty gets a go. Josh Hazlewood had a few bowls and Jhye Richardson a bit similar, but they were not quite up to 100%,” Cummins told reporters at the SCG on Tuesday.
“We gave Josh every chance we could, but he felt he couldn’t bowl at full tilt yesterday so we’re still hoping he will be right for the final Test in Hobart.
“You are not going to blast them out on this wicket,” he added. “There’s a little bit of grass on it, but traditionally it’s hard work, it goes the full five days and you need that disciplined stump-to-stump bowler, that’s what Scotty brings.
“There’s no secret that if Josh Hazlewood was fit he would play, but it’s a real luxury to have someone like Scotty. It would have been a shame to see him not play this week after his efforts in Melbourne last week.”
Hazlewood hasn’t played since the opening Test in Brisbane while Richardson, who featured as his replacement in the second Test in Adelaide, taking five wickets in the second innings, has also been held back through injury.
Khawaja initially lost out to Head for the vacant No 5 batting position at the start of the series and has been part of Australia’s Test squad throughout as a spare batter.
Joe Root’s England team face another difficult assignment against a rampant Australia, who crushed them by an innings and 14 runs inside three days in the third Test at Melbourne to retain the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead.
It followed heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, where batting collapses, poor fielding and questionable selections cost the tourists dearly.
England are facing the possibility of a 5-0 series whitewash, although rain forecast for Sydney could come to their rescue.
Cummins said leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson missed out on selection because the SCG wicket was not suited to playing two slow bowlers.
There had been calls to blood a second spinner along with Nathan Lyon in the dead rubber by selecting Swepson, who has been on the fringe of a Test call-up for years.
Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.
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