Australia pacer Scott Boland is doubtful for the fifth and final Ashes Test with an elbow and rib injury. Michael Neser is likely to replace him in the playing XI as Australia have no other alternatives at the moment. The fifth Test starts on 14 January at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. Australia have already claimed the series 3-0 and will want to test their bench strength in the final game.
Boland, who was Australia's hero in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG with six wickets in an innings, played the fourth Test under pain. As reported by the Australian media outlet The Age, Boland has suffered an injury to his cartilage. The 32-year-old had jammed his elbow into his ribs at the cusp of tea on Friday resulting in a severe injury. The pacer required the aid of painkillers to get through the final two days.
In Boland's absence, Australia will be compelled to bring in Michael Neser who played the second Test in place of Pat Cummins. The other two options, Jhye Richardson and Josh Hazlewood are both recovering from injuries and don't look to be in the race.
Pat Cummins in dilemma
While it looks a pretty easy option for the Australian captain to pick Neser for Boland, he doesn't have the same liberty for the no. 5 spot. The two candidates available are Travis Head and Usman Khawaja. Both of them are in fine form posing a dilemma for Cummins. While Head played an important role in Australia's win in the first Test, Khawaja scored twin centuries in his comeback game at the SCG. With Head returning to the squad and Khawaja not going out, Pat Cummins will have only one option- to leave out Marcus Harris.
One of the opening slots is well occupied by experienced David Warner but justice to the second one is yet to be served. Harris has tried doing so but has failed, not miserably though. The 29-year-old has aggregated 179 runs in the four games so far and has scored only one half-century. Therefore, Cummins may be compelled to play Khawaja at the top and keep Head at no. 5.