Adam Voges has been passed fit for the second cricket Test against South Africa, meaning Australia will likely only need to make two injury-enforced changes to the lineup that lost the series-opener in Perth.
Voges strained his hamstring during the first Test and underwent a fitness assessment on Friday, the eve of the second Test at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval, in front of selector Rod Marsh and team medical staff. The 37-year-old batsman showed he was able to run between wickets and to field without difficulty.
“He’s come through his fitness Test fine so I think he’ll be good to go,” Australia captain Steve Smith said of Voges.
Australia will confirm its lineup on match morning. All-rounder Mitch Marsh is under pressure to hold his place, while spinner Nathan Lyon cold lose his spot because of forecast rain in the island state off the southern coast of the Australian mainland.
“We’ll wait until tomorrow and see what’s happening with the weather,” Smith said. “You might not need to have that extra bowling option (which Lyon offers) if there’s a lot of rain around.
“There are possibilities we could go in with six genuine batsmen. We’ll wait and see. The forecast isn’t great for the next couple of days so we’ll wait until the Test to name a team.”
Callum Ferguson would likely have made his Test debut if Voges failed to prove his fitness, and could still do so if Marsh is dropped.
Australia has brushed off concerns that the sudden heavy workload imposed on its leading fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood might increase their risk of breaking down. The pair bowled a combined total of more than 100 overs in Perth.
Starc, especially, came into the first Test with a limited preparation and there have been fears an increased workload might place him at a higher risk of injury.
Coach Darren Lehmann has said it is unlikely Starc will be rested in Hobart but any decision will be made after careful consideration.
“It’s about knowing your players, speaking to the medical staff,” Lehmann said. “Also it’s what’s the wicket going to do? Is it going to rain? Will it be a flat wicket? We’ve always said if the bowler’s not 100 per cent fit, he won’t play.”
Australia has lost already opener Shaun Marsh with a broken finger and fast bowler Peter Siddle with a back injury, calling up batsman Joe Burns and paceman Joe Mennie. It finds itself under pressure to save the three-Test series after losing the first Test by 177 runs.
South Africa has lost pace spearhead Dale Steyn for the remainder of the series with a shoulder injury but will still field a formidable pace attack. Vernon Philander will share the new ball with Kagiso Rabada, who took 5-92 during Australia’s second innings at Perth to bowl South Africa to victory.
Rabada made superb use of reverse swing to trouble Australia’s batsman in the first Test but there is doubt conditions in Hobart will allow the ball to reverse.
Opening batsman Dean Elgar said the ability of the South Africa bowlers to produce reverse swing was a major asset for the tourists.
“For a bowler to be able to bowl with a reversing ball is a massive skill,” Elgar said. “We’re fortunate that most, if not all, of our bowlers can bowl with the reversing ball, which works in our favor quite nicely.
“As it worked out in Perth the ball reversed in both innings when we were bowling and it proved to be a massive asset for us.”
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