Australia swiftly Josh Hazlewood thinks he has a chance to play against India in the World Test Championship final if he can go through some intense training sessions over the course of the upcoming week after quitting the IPL early owing to some side pain.
After arriving late to the competition owing to an Achilles problem that caused him to miss Australia’s whole four-match Test series with India in February and March as well as the subsequent three-match ODI series, Hazlewood played just three matches in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Hazlewood’s early withdrawal from the IPL was made out of prudence, and scans revealed no side damage. He missed three additional tests last summer against West Indies and South Africa after suffering two side strains in the previous two years, totaling four during the home Ashes series in 2021–22.
But before the team’s trip to England last week, he was able to bowl at home in Sydney. Hazlewood went nearly full throttle during the team’s first formal training session in England on Tuesday in Formby, West Lancashire, after taking a soft bowl by himself shortly after landing in the country.
He informed the ICC that he was near to being fully healthy but that he would need to complete a week’s worth of bowling before being cleared to compete in the WTC final against India, which will begin the following Wednesday at the London Oval.
Hazlewood claimed, “My physical fitness is fairly good. “Basically, it just involves crossing off each session between now and that date.
“In T20, every over involves bowling a variety of different balls. A wide yorker was followed by a bouncer to a slower ball, and as a result, the side became slightly jammed and some scar tissue from prior injuries flared up.
It settled down rather fast. I had a week off, so I wasn’t quite at full strength for [the] IPL, but my last few bowls have been solid, and I’ve been putting on some decent weight.
Australia’s UK tour began in Lancashire with a golf outing and training session at Formby on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they will travel to London for a three-day camp at Beckenham.
If Hazlewood wants to have a chance of competing in the WTC final, he’ll probably need to complete two strong bowling sessions on Thursday and Saturday. Australia will train at the Oval on Monday and Tuesday. Two days before a Test match, the quick bowlers often have another productive bowling session before taking the day off.
Despite an interrupted preparation, Australia’s selectors will need to decide whether to back Hazlewood or to go with the dependable Scott Boland, who has just returned from a 10-week hiatus following his previous appearance in the Sheffield Shield final in March.
Sean Abbott and Michael Neser have been pulled from the Vitality Blast for their respective counties of Glamorgan and Surrey to train with the Australian team in Beckenham, even though they are not included in Australia’s official 15-man squad for the WTC final or the 17-man squad for the Ashes that will take place right after the final.
Apart from the choice between Hazlewood and Boland, Australia’s selection will be decided for the WTC final, with Pat Cummins returning to lead the team after missing the last two Tests in India due to family obligations. After missing the first two Tests in India owing to a finger injury, Mitchell Starc played as the only quick in Australia’s final two matches there. He is now fully healthy.
Since the beginning of 2021, Hazlewood has only participated in four of Australia’s previous 19 Test matches and hasn’t featured in consecutive first-class matches since. He wanted to play every game but knew that six Tests in seven weeks would be a lot for the fast bowlers to handle.
Hazlewood added, “I would have probably answered I would have liked to play all six Tests if you had asked me that question three years ago, but it is just different now. “It is just consuming so closely together at this point and coming across as not the best build-up, but it is getting there.
“But we have enough quicks here and a few others who play county cricket to cover all the bases,” said the speaker. Depending on how much we bowl in each, Pat may be considering all six, so you should sort of wing it. It is difficult because the schedule is so packed.
After missing the final two Tests in India due to a fractured arm, David Warner will also be reinstated at the top of the order. Peter Handscomb, who played all four Tests in India, was completely left out of the WTC and Ashes squads, thus Travis Head, who opened in the final two Tests in India, will move back to No. 5.
Cameron Green, Australia’s top all-arounder, skipped the early flight to Lancashire with the team. Instead, after Mumbai Indians’ defeat to Gujarat Titans in the IPL Qualifier on May 26, he made a brief vacation home to Perth before joining Australia’s WTC team in London. Only Green, an Australian team member who has been in India since the Border-Gavaskar series began, has been home since January.
Green was injured when batting during the IPL Qualifier after being struck on the left forearm; nevertheless, he came back to bat, and his fitness for the WTC final is unaffected.