Western Australia have taken the extraordinary step of dropping Ashes prospect Nathan Coulter-Nile from the Sheffield Shield squad to instead lead an invitational XI against Joe Root’s Englishmen in their first tour match.
Fellow Test contender Marcus Stoinis has also been ruled out of the Shield match for personal reasons, meaning he will be unable to stake his international claims in the final match before the Gabba Test squad is chosen.
Coulter-Nile, who was a standout on Australia’s limited overs tour of India before the home summer, will be replaced by Jason Behrendorff in the WA squad to play New South Wales at Hurstville Oval. Behrendorff was himself rested from the Warriors Shield team for their first match against Tasmania. According to the WA coach Justin Langer, the decision is based upon Coulter-Nile’s recent injury history.
“He hasn’t played back-to-back first-class games since 2015,” Langer said. “We are mindful of this and want to ensure his return to this level of cricket is managed appropriately to give him the best chance this season.
“He is coping pretty well in his return from injury but he is still building up to the levels required for consecutive first-class matches. We believe the best plan is for him is to play the two-day tour match against England and then into round 3 of the Shield.”
Cricket Australia’s sports science staff are involved in planning aimed at getting all Test pace bowling options to a peak of fitness ahead of the Gabba, including workload management. However it is a move away from the pattern of 2013-14 to offer England any bowlers of high pace ahead of the first Test of the summer.
Four years ago they faced mainly bowlers of lesser velocity before reaching Brisbane, where they were stunned by the speed and hostility of Mitchell Johnson. Western Australia Shield squad: Mitchell Marsh (capt), Ashton Turner, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Hilton Cartwright, Josh Inglis, Matt Kelly, Simon Mackin, Shaun Marsh, David Moody, Jhye Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Jonathan Wells.
Western Australia XI Tour Match squad: Nathan Coulter-Nile (capt), Will Bosisto, Jake Carder, Tim David, Kyle Gardiner, Aaron Hardie, Clint Hinchliffe, Nick Hobson, Calum How, Lance Morris, Josh Philippe, Mark Turner.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo