Concerns over Cummins as Smith takes the reins
Australia's captain returned to the field in the evening session and could still bowl on the final day
There are concerns over the fitness of Australia captain Pat Cummins after he failed to take the field for the start of the fourth innings on day four of the first Test against West Indies in Perth due to right quadricep soreness.
Cummins bowled 20.2 overs in West Indies first innings across days two and three to claim figures of 3 for 34 including his 200th Test scalp.
But when Australia declared at lunch on day four following Marnus Labuschagne's second century of the match, Cummins failed to take the field after lunch.
"Pat Cummins is experiencing some mild right-sided quadriceps soreness," a CA spokesperson said. "He will continue to be monitored by team medical staff and his availability to bowl in the second innings will be assessed on an ongoing basis. Steve Smith will captain the side while Cummins is off the field."
Cummins returned to the field after 36 overs off, halfway through the last session of day four, with Australia coach Andrew McDonald explaining that he could be available to bowl on the final day.
"Clearly he has to wait his time now, he'll have to do that on the field until he's able to bowl again," McDonald told Fox Cricket. "[He'll bowl] probably sometime tomorrow. We'll try to line that up with the second new ball. We're sort of managing and respecting the fact that he has a quad complaint. Clearly, the game at the moment, his bowling would be valuable out there so we're going to get him out there and assess him at the end of the day.
"It's only a minor niggle. We can manage it. Clearly, we've got a long summer ahead but this game is most important."
Australia's selectors did have a loose plan in place as to how they would manage their fast bowlers across five back-to-back Tests this summer with a massive Test workload ahead in 2023, including tours of India and England.
The resting of some individuals is a possibility. The selectors' management plan was entirely dependent on how much Australia's quicks would bowl and the types of surfaces they would bowl on, with only a four-day break between the Perth and Adelaide Tests against West Indies before breaks of just five, four and four days ahead of each of the three Tests against South Africa.
Scott Boland, who currently averages 9.55 in Test cricket, is the reserve quick in the squad while Michael Neser and Mark Steketee are likely the next in line. Cummins missed last year's Adelaide Test against England after being a Covid close contact on the eve of the game. Jhye Richardson played on that occasion but won't be considered this season due to various injury niggles.
"It's a short turnaround [to Adelaide] and that's clearly in our decision-making as well," McDonald said. "Ideally if Pat doesn't have to bowl again in this Test match that's great but at the moment the West Indies are playing really, really well so we'll be put to a decision early tomorrow."
Meanwhile, West Indies have suffered an injury of their own with Kemar Roach limping off the field following his seventh over Australia's second innings. West Indies confirmed he was being sent for a scan on his left thigh on Saturday afternoon. The uncapped 27-year-old Marquino Mindley has been called into the squad and will arrive in Adelaide on Monday.
Kyle Mayers also didn't bowl in the second innings due to a strain in his right shoulder, but he did field and came out to bat late in the day. They have already lost Nkrumah Bonner after he was subbed out of the game with concussion on day three following a blow to the head while batting.
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo