Test players in "quarantine"

20 December 2012 07:45:20 EST

Australia have moved to protect their second Test squad from being injured ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Sri Lanka.

Coach Mickey Arthur is concerned at the number of injuries, particularly among the bowling stocks.

We just think it's in the best interests of those 13 players to get ready for Boxing Day.

Mickey Arthur

Ben Hilfenhaus suffered a side strain during the first Test in Hobart, joining young quicks Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and John Hazlewood in the treatment room.

To ensure no more players go down with injury ahead of the second Test, both Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja were withdrawn from Big Bash League matches when they were called up to the Australia squad.

Arthur said: "We feel the Test match on Boxing Day is massively important, we want to quarantine the 13 players. We're sitting with enough injuries as it is.

"We just think it's in the best interests of those 13 players to get ready for Boxing Day."

He added: "All I can say is we've had a list of bowlers leading into our summer, and we're well down the list at the moment."

Captain Michael Clarke is confident of recovering from his hamstring injury in time to play at the MCG.

But Arthur said he was happy that Khawaja would be able to step in if Clarke was unavailable.

"I don't think we would have picked him if we didn't think he was showing that continued improvement that we wanted from him," Arthur said.

"Uzzy's done well, it's no coincidence that Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja are one and two in the amount of Shield runs.

"They've thoroughly deserved their chance to come back after losing their place in the side here a year ago."

Australia are 8/13 to beat Sri Lanka in the second Test, with the tourists available at 5/1. Jackson Bird is 9/2 to be Australia's top first innings bowler.

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