Australia suffer major blow ahead of Test series against Sri Lanka

Pacer Josh Hazlewood ruled out of the two-match series with back injury

Australia suffer major blow ahead of Test series against Sri Lanka PHOTO: AFP

Australia suffered a big blow Saturday with star fast-bowler Josh Hazlewood ruled out of their two upcoming Tests against Sri Lanka with a back injury, and Jhye Richardson replacing him.
The vice-captain has hurt the same part of his back that sidelined him last year.

But Cricket Australia physiotherapist David Beakley said he was confident Hazlewood would recover in time for the World Cup in England and Wales.

"Josh has reported some back soreness over the last few days and scans have revealed a very early stage stress fracture in the same lower back area as his previous injury from last summer," he said on the Cricket Australia website. "He will now begin a rehabilitation program and we are confident he will be available for selection ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup in the UK later this year."

Richardson, who has impressed in the one-day series against India, joins Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Peter Siddle as the pace attack in the squad to face Sri Lanka.

The first Test — a day-nighter — starts next Thursday in Brisbane, with the second in Canberra.

"Jhye has had an impressive first half in his Sheffield Shield season and no-one could deny he has now continued that form in ODI matches for Australia," said national selector Trevor Hohns. "We consider Jhye to be an ideal replacement in the squad for Josh."

Australia squad

Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Tim Paine (capt), Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle.