Glenn Maxwell is in line for a shock Test return after Travis Head was ruled out of Australia’s final one-day international against Sri Lanka.
Head hurt his hamstring on Tuesday when Sri Lanka took an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series in Colombo, adding to a long list of injuries for the visitors.
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Head has yet to be ruled out of the Test series and is hopeful of being fit but time is against him. But should he miss the first Test, Maxwell could sensationally make his return after a five-year absence from the Test arena.
ODI captain Aaron Finch was asked about Head’s fitness and said he was “not sure” if he would be fit for the two-match Test series beginning on July 29 in Galle.
“Especially where he fields in the outfield, he does quite a lot of kilometers and the ground is quite heavy,” Finch said, adding that Head’s absence was a “bit more of a precaution.”
Maxwell has now been added to the Test squad and could play his first Test match in five years.
The other players in the mix to replace Head include all-rounder Mitchell Marsh and Josh Inglis.
Maxwell’s ability to play spin bowling would be a key asset for the Australians with all seven of his Test matches coming on the sub continent. They include a tour of India where he made a maiden century in 2017. His off-spin bowling would also be valuable on surfaces expected to favor slow bowling.
The 33-year-old spoke about the upcoming Sri Lanka tour earlier this year and was confident he could play a part.
“I know it’s specific to my skillset and the way I play slow bowling, especially in these conditions, that might have been something to sway (selectors),” he told cricket.com.au earlier this month.
“But I think the way they’ve shown faith in their current squad is brilliant.
“It’s nice that the door’s not closed but I also thought it was nice that they showed faith in that squad.”
Australia also faces a selection headache over its spin options.
Ashton Agar was in line to partner Nathan Lyon but has picked up a side strain all but ruling him out of the series opener next week.
Mitchell Swepson is the frontrunner having played against Pakistan earlier in the year while Cricket Australia has announced Jon Holland, Matthew Kuhnemann and Todd Murphy will remain in Sri Lanka after the Australia Tour to continue their development in subcontinental conditions.