World Cup nerves behind Cummins coming home
PAT Cummins will return early from the UAE as Australia opt to wrap their most important asset in cotton wool ahead of the World Cup.
The prized fast bowler has only played one of the three matches against Pakistan, but with the five-match series already won 3-0 heading into game four on Friday night, Australia will take no chances with their $2.5 million man.
Australia has already lost star quick Jhye Richardson to injury on this tour, and Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are fighting to prove their fitness for the World Cup.
On the back of six straight ODI wins to get serious momentum into their World Cup defence, the last thing Australia need now is to unnecessarily play all-format match-winner Cummins.
The 25-year-old is considered absolutely crucial to the World Cup and Ashes campaigns and now is seen as precious time for him to rest and refresh at home.
Cummins is almost certain to retain his place as the No.1 ranked player in Australian cricket when the contract lists are drawn up next month.
He is expected to return to Sydney within the next 48 hours.
There is no suggestion Cummins is anything but fully fit. However, selectors are applying the common sense rule and are determined not to overwork him.
Cummins early return home clears the stage for World Cup hopefuls Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff and Kane Richardson to audition for the final 15-man squad.
Starc is likely to return for the World Cup and Hazlewood is also pushing hard, meaning the current bowling squad in the UAE will be looking over their shoulders and knowing they need results to guarantee their places.
Australia received some good news on Jhye Richardson, who looks to have avoided shoulder surgery following a nasty fall in the UAE.
"Jhye Richardson has had scans on his right shoulder to assess the extent of his injury. The scans demonstrated the usual soft tissue damage we expect following a dislocation but fortunately has excluded any bone damage or fracture," said CA doctor, Richard Saw.
"We are hopeful that Jhye will not require surgery but he will see a shoulder specialist early next week for a further opinion.
"We will be able to provide an update in respect to next steps once we have all the information on the table."