Australian pace bowler Josh Hazlewood was ruled out of this week’s World Test Championship final against India with Michael Neser added to their squad, Cricket Australia announced on Sunday.

Hazlewood has not played any red-ball cricket since injuring his Achilles in the Sydney Test against South Africa in January and only recently made his comeback in the Indian Premier League for Royal Challengers Bangalore.

While he has been bowling at full speed in recent training sessions, he is still dealing with the injury and selectors opted not to risk him with a five-Test Ashes series against England to follow.

Neser has been in good form playing county cricket for Glamorgan, although Scott Boland is favoured to replace Hazlewood and lead the attack alongside Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon.

“Josh was very, very close to being given the green light but we are cognisant that our upcoming schedule means this is not a one-off Test match of us,” chair of selectors George Bailey said in a statement.

“Michael’s county form has been strong and knowing that he was going to be close by allowed for him to keep playing and for us to be able to call on him. He is a great strength to have as part of the fast bowling group.

“This will give Josh an ideal preparation leading into Edgbaston,” he added. “With six Test matches in a little over seven weeks, we will need all of our fast bowling assets.”

The World Test Championship final gets underway at the Oval from Wednesday with the first Test of the Ashes starting at Edgbaston on June 16.

With inputs from AFP