Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood need to be pushed for their places: Mitchell Johnson
Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood have picked up 40 wickets in the series.

Former pacer Mitchell Johnson feels Australia’s pace trio of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc cannot be guaranteed their place in the time following a disappointing summer. Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins have Australia’s fast bowling linchpins in the longer formats, but recent string of injuries and lack of wickets has prompted Johnson to request the selectors to look for options beyond them.

With the three pacers rested for the ODIs against India, Jhye Richardson, Billy Stanlake and a returning Peter Siddle would be taking over the fast bowling responsibilities. With the World Cup being a Australia’s priority Johnson believes the defending champions would need to prepare and find bowlers who could be useful in English conditions.

“Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have excellent records over their careers, but have not been able to get the job done this summer,” Johnson wrote in a column for the Sunday Times. “They now need to be pushed for their places and the Sri Lanka series provides an opportunity to look at some quicks who could be successful in English conditions.”

While Cummins and Hazlewood missed seven months of action due to respective back injuries while Starc too has been severely hampered by injuries in the last one year. Besides, in the current series, the three pacers have combined to take 40 wickets in the series, including Cummins’ match-haul of 9/99 in the Melbourne Test. Although these may not be poor numbers, India’s Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma have scalped 48.

Johnson reckons that on current form, Starc looks the most likely to be dropped. In the fourth Test against India in Sydney, the left-armer bowled 26 overs in which he conceded 123 runs for one wicket. Skipper Tim Paine recognised how Starc’s form has been below what Australia have come to expect and had spoken how the pacer has not been at his best for a while now.

“The question of who would make room for them is a difficult one, however on current form Starc might need to make way.” Johnson said. “Starc has a tremendous overall record but has not enjoyed the best past year. He appears to be struggling with a lack of rhythm.”

That said, Johnson asserted that it would have been a wise move to include Australia in the ODIs as he could have utilised the white ball better. “The selectors missed a trick by resting the three pacemen from the upcoming one-day international series against India,” Johnson said.

“Starc bowls really well with the white ball and could have used the 50-over format to find form and confidence. He could have been left out of the Sydney Test and then unleashed with the white ball and with a point to prove.”