Mon, 06 Feb 2023

Perth [Australia], December 3 (ANI): Former Australia Test skipper Steve Smith filled in for regular red-ball captain Pat Cummins after the latter, battling muscle soreness, did not come out to the field at the start of West Indies' second innings on the fourth day of the opening Test in Perth.

This after Cricket Australia confirmed that Smith, who had stepped down as Test skipper in the wake of a 'ball-tampering' controversy during a red-ball series against South Africa in 2018, will lead the Baggy Greens in the absence of Cummins.

Cummins, who picked up his 200th Test scalp in the ongoing fixture, could only manage to bowl 20.2 overs during West Indies' first innings.

Cummins did not take the field after lunch on Day 4, following Australia's declaration after Marnus Labuschagne's second century of the match.

According to Cricket Australia, he was dealing with 'some pain'.

Cricket Australia spokesperson informed that the Aussie Test skipper felt uneasy in his quadriceps. The team physiotherapist will examine his health and take the call on whether he will be able to bowl any further in the match. In his absence, Smith will be in charge of proceedings on the field.

"Pat Cummins is experiencing some mild right-sided quadricep soreness," a CA official said.

"He will continue to be monitored by team medical staff and his availability to bowl in the second innings will be assessed on an ongoing basis. Steve Smith will captain the side while Cummins is off the field," the official was quoted by ESPN Cricinfo as saying.

While opener Marcus Harris is the substitute fielder for Cummins, Australia have roped in Scott Boland as his replacement bowler.

With a heavy Test schedule in 2023, including tours of India and England, Australia's selectors did have a strategy in place as to how they would manage their fast bowlers across five back-to-back Tests this summer.

It's possible that some red-ball regulars will be rested. With only a four-day break between the Perth and Adelaide Tests against the West Indies, and four days between each of the three Tests against South Africa, the selectors' management strategy is dependent on how much Australia's quicks would bowl and the surfaces they would bowl on.

At present, there are injuries galore in both camps. A couple of West Indians -- seamer Kemar Roach and batrer Nkrumah Bonner suffered injuries in the current Test.

Australia have a packed summer with a couple of Test matches against the West Indies, a three-match series against South Africa and the high-stakes Ashes.

The fitness of their fast bowlers will be the key for the Aussies as they go into their upcoming Tests. (ANI)

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