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Ashes 2021-22, Boxing Day Test: Mitchell Starc likely to make return, apprehensions over Josh Hazlewood

The Boxing Day Ashes 2021-22 Test kick stars from December 26. Australia's Mitchell Starc is expected to gain full fitness. However, the same cannot be said for Josh Hazlewood.

Ashes 2021-22, Australia vs England, AUS vs ENG, Boxing Day Test: Mitchell Starc likely to make return, apprehensions over Josh Hazlewood-ayh
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Melbourne VIC, First Published Dec 23, 2021, 10:26 AM IST
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It would be an intense clash between Australia and England in the Boxing Day Test of the 2021-22 Ashes at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) from Sunday. However, Australia has a couple of fitness concerns. While seamer Mitchell Starc is likely to be fit, apprehensions lie over pacer Josh Hazlewood.

Starc had suffered a twinge in his ribs while batting during the second Test at the Adelaide Oval. However, there is no concern regarding his bowling, as he did so flawlessly throughout the Test. On the other hand, Hazlewood is nursing a side strain, as he missed the Adelaide Test and flew home to Sydney before re-joining the squad in Melbourne.

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"It's just rib [of Starc], actually. Many bowlers talk about when they come back to Test cricket, bowl more overs, and they jam down on that rib area. So, he should be fine. He's tough. If he's not right, then we'll look at it. But there's no indication suggesting he won't be playing the next Test at this stage. We will wait and see how Josh Hazlewood pulls up. He arrives this afternoon," said Australia head coach Justin Langer, reports ESPNCricinfo.

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On the other hand, Australia has included uncapped pacer Scot Boland in the side and is in line for a debut, given his seamless record at the MCG. In his 10-year First-Class (FC) career, he has scalped 96 wickets at an average of 25.56, including four fifers. However, Langer deemed his call-up just a cover.

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"It's more precautionary than anything else. That said, he's a terrific bowler, and he's had an awesome domestic couple of years. If he gets the opportunity like Michael Neser last game, he will certainly deserve that," he concluded. If Australia misses out on Hazlewood, either Jhye Richardson or Michael Neser makes the cut.

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