Josh Hazlewood is out of the fifth Investec Test and for the seventh time on this and the previous West Indies tour Peter Siddle's claims appear likely to be ignored by the selectors, opening the way for Pat Cummins to resume his Test career.
The coach Darren Lehmann has been moved to explain why Hazlewood will not be playing, but a cloud remains over how the most experienced seam bowler in the tour party has not been used even once on this trip, even as England have prepared a succession of green, seaming surfaces ideally suited to Siddle's skills.
Siddle was understood to be utterly bereft about his omission for the Trent Bridge Test, and confided to his former captain Ricky Ponting that he felt his last chance to play for Australia had gone. The pitch for the Oval Test looks likely to provide similar levels of assistance to the bowlers, but with the Ashes gone it is likely that Cummins will be chosen alongside Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc.
The captain Michael Clarke said that Siddle remained in contention to play, and that at the age of 30 he should not be discarded as an Australian pace bowler. "Sidds is still working extremely hard and continues to get better," Clarke said. "He's played a few of the practice games and probably hasn't got as many wickets as he would've liked.
"But he's certainly in contention for this Test match. He might've had a niggle after the tour game so the medical staff have tried to look after that. He bowled fine yesterday, I faced him in the nets and he bowled really well. Sidds is only 30 so I think he's got plenty of time left in him, and he's been a big part of the Australian Test team over a period of time."
Siddle has not played a Test since the first match of last summer in Adelaide when he bowled poorly while battling illness. Hazlewood has been preferred in each match since then, and Siddle was not awarded a Cricket Australia contract despite being chosen for this tour. The pitches in England seemed to create the ideal scenario for his inclusion as a consistent seam and swing bowler of much experience.
Hazlewood, meanwhile, has struggled to maintain consistency, and Lehmann and the selection chairman Rod Marsh were seen in lengthy conversation with him in Northamptonshire. Lehmann said it had been decided that the least experienced member of the bowling attack needed rest before niggles became larger issues.
"Josh has played six Tests since the West Indies tour and the last nine Tests for Australia, as well as playing an important part in the World Cup," Lehmann said. "He has managed to get through this period without any major injury which is pleasing, though currently he does have some niggling problems that we would like to manage. As such, he was not considered for selection for the 5th Test.
"On his return to Australia his niggles will be investigated further and he will work with our coaches, and our medical and fitness staff to have him prepared for the next series he is selected to play in."
Lehmann's clarification leaves Cummins very much in line to play, resuming his Test career nearly four years after he made a memorable debut against South Africa in Johannesburg, taking the Man-of-the-Match award in a narrow victory on a helpful pitch for bowlers. According to Clarke, The Oval looks to be another such surface.
"It still looks pretty green from the boundary so I imagine it will look even greener up close," Clarke said. "It's going to be another really tough Test match for the batters, but we just have to find a way to fight our backsides off, whether it goes two days or three days I'd just like us to be on the right side of that two or three days."
Mitchell Marsh has also firmed to return to the side ahead of his brother Shaun, after the latter was seen in deep conversation with Rod Marsh during Australia's final training session.