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Australia’s plans for the Ashes depend on Hazlewood’s health.


Australia’s chair of selection, George Bailey, hopes that Josh Hazlewood will get fitter before the six-Test tour of the UK in June. The fast bowler, who is 32 years old, hurt his Achilles tendon during the home summer. Because of this, he couldn’t play in the Border-Gavaskar Test series.

The player from New South Wales joined his IPL team, Royal Challengers Bangalore, this week, but it might be a while before he plays for them. Bailey and the Cricket Australia selectors are counting on him to get better at bowling through the T20 league. He is part of a 17-person team for the World Test Championship final against India and the five-Test Ashes series that starts right after.

“Josh Hazlewood is still building back to his full capacity through the IPL, so hopefully he gets a few games over there in the back half of that tournament and starts to ramp up his return,” Bailey said on Wednesday (April 19). He’s reasonably experienced. He’s very professional. Josh. He knows exactly what and where he’ll need to be to be at his best for the Ashes. We’re in constant communication as we are with all the players around that. He will be building, in some ways, that sort of smaller workload through four-over bursts in the IPL might be a nice build for him.”

Hazlewood is trying to make a comeback, but Michael Neser is not on Australia’s team for the tour of the UK. Neser had his best Sheffield Shield season with Queensland, when he took 40 wickets at 16.67. Since he plays County Cricket for Glamorgan, the team’s selectors will have the opportunity to call him up if they need more fast bowlers.

“The other advantage or the handy thing we have is that we’ve got Sean Abbott and Michael Neser over there playing county cricket. They’re obviously on the ground playing lots of cricket, so we can call on them if we need,” Bailey said. “It’s great to have so many players playing County cricket. We keep an eye on all the guys that are over there playing. I think specifically around the bowling front, we’ve got our first-choice for quicks over there. And then if we do need to call upon another quick we can be really specific around who we need and why. And not necessarily have someone in the squad who ends up being superfluous.”

Bailey also tried to clear up some confusion about the selection of controversial opener David Warner. He said that Warner was expected to start the Test Championship final against India at The Oval as a sign of continuity, but that the 36-year-old was not a sure thing to start in the Ashes. Warner, who is 36 years old, has been struggling in the format for a long time. In his last 15 centuries, he has only reached 50 once, but that one time was a double hundred against South Africa in the Boxing Day Test.

“[Warner] is invested and wants to make sure he helps us finish off a couple of consistent years in Test by trying to win the World Test Championship final,” Bailey said. “The way we see it, this is the result of a pretty steady two years. The team has been pretty much the same for a long time. We are sure that this team and this group of people can do well.

“Not specifically to Dave, but I think we’ll just get through that Test championship. We’ll obviously be planning behind the scenes but we’ll have a look at what that looks like as we get there. Different opposition and different surface in terms of going from the Oval to to start the Ashes. So we’ll work through that. We’ll wait and see what the conditions hold when we get there.”

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