Lance Morris has declared he is better equipped for a Test debut than when first called into the Australian squad a year ago despite having his winter disrupted by a back fracture.
On Sunday, the West Australian tearaway was named in the 14-man squad for the first Test against Pakistan in Perth from December 14.
Australia is confident its “big three” quicks Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will be fit for the match, having each enjoyed almost a month off between the ODI World Cup final and the first Test.
That is likely to deny Morris, nicknamed “The Wild Thing” for his explosive pace, a fairytale home Test debut.
But with four more Tests before the end of January, he and fellow quick Scott Boland have a chance to feature at some point.
(“I’ve got) itchy feet, but in a good way,” Morris said. “I’m excited to ideally get out there and have a crack.
“At this stage, I think my role in the team is being there in case someone does go down, and I’m just hoping to take that opportunity if it does arise.”
Morris’ latest inclusion comes almost exactly 12 months after he earned a surprise call-up as injury cover for the second Test of the last home summer.
He maintained his spot in the Test squad for the tour of India, but did not have a chance to debut.
“They were two huge learning curves for me,” Morris said of his first two call-ups.
“I had a great time working with the likes of (assistant coach) Danny Vettori and obviously Andrew McDonald when I was with the squad.
“I feel like I know my own game a lot better after coming away from the Aussie squad. It’s been a nice period to work on that stuff and try and fine-tune a few things
“I definitely feel like I’m in a better place than I was 12 months ago, for sure.”
A stress fracture in Morris’ back ruled him out of Ashes calculations and began a long period of careful recovery on the sidelines.
He returned to red-ball cricket in mid-October and has taken 11 wickets across three Sheffield Shield matches for Western Australia.
“There’s probably a little bit of hesitancy at first,” Morris said of his return to the game.
“But overall it’s been a really structured build-up into returning to full game intensity. I think we’ve done that really nicely as well and I feel like I’m in a really good place.”
Morris has been heartened to have remained in the Test frame despite a disrupted lead-in to the summer.
“It’s awesome. I guess that shows they have a bit of faith and a bit of a plan in place,” Morris said.
“If they’re willing to have me around the squad, I’m absolutely stoked with that.”
Morris’s ability to consistently bowl faster than 150kph makes him a conducive replacement for Starc if the left-armer is injured or rested.
But chief selector George Bailey has already indicated there would be no issue selecting Morris and Starc in the same XI.
“That’s awesome. I’m glad there’s plans for the future ahead,” Morris said.
Michael Neser has withdrawn from the Prime Minister’s XI match against Pakistan with soreness as a precaution ahead of the Test summer.
Jordan Buckingham will replace the 33-year-old paceman in the side for the four-day game at Manuka Oval from Wednesday.
“We’re taking a cautious approach with Michael,” said chief selector George Bailey. “The elevated risk of potentially another large bowling load in the four-day PM XI’s fixture was deemed too high.
“We want to ensure that should the opportunity arise to play more Test cricket this summer that we are giving him the best chance to be ready to perform.”