Australian cricketer Josh Hazlewood’s stellar performance at Manchester on Friday has exposed a dire blunder from national selectors.
Defending a first innings total of 9/294, Hazlewood’s blistering spell with the ball ensured Australia took a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series against England.
The 29-year-old’s relentless consistency with the new ball restricted scoring early in England’s innings — the world champions mustered a pitiful 2/22 from their opening 10 overs.
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Hazlewood removed the destructive Jason Roy for three with a classy catch off his own bowling, before finding the edge of Joe Root’s bat soon after, dismissing England’s most experienced batsman for one. At one stage, Hazlewood had figures of 2/5 off six overs.
The New South Wales paceman then returned to claim the wicket of all-rounder Moeen Ali, who was caught in the outfield by Marnus Labuschagne.
“There was a little bit there with the new ball and I made the most of it,” Hazlewood said after the 19-run victory.
“I was lucky to get a couple of early ones and keep them under pressure.
“England’s have been the form top order over the last three or four years so it is a good measure of where you are at.
“It was good fun to bowl eight up front and test myself physically too. It’s a simple game for me to just try and hit the top of the stumps and if they want to move around and play a few shots then go for it. But I stick to my plans.”
Hazlewood finished his 10 overs with 3/26 including three maidens, the seventh most economic ODI completed spell by an Australian bowler in the past decade — he was rightfully awarded Player of the Match.
England bowler Stuart Broad told Sky Sports: “He exposed the conditions perfectly. That is part of being a world class international bowler, you adapt to each condition.”
Hazlewood’s bowling style is perfectly suited for English conditions, and it’s therefore reasonable to question why he was omitted from Australia’s World Cup squad last year.
Australia were desperate to unearth a third paceman to combine with Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins during the ten-team tournament, trialling Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff.
Hazlewood would have been the ideal candidate — in ODI cricket, he averages 16.53 with an economy rate of 4.57 on England soil. But having recently recovered from an injury, selectors opted to exclude him from the 15-player squad.
Chief selector Trevor Hohns explained at the time: “Our focus is to have Josh back bowling at his best for the commencement of a big Ashes tour.”
Ironically, while the Australians were competing for their sixth World Cup title, Hazlewood was also in England, touring with the Australia A squad in preparation for the 2019 Ashes series.
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In May last year, Hazlewood conceded he was bitterly disappointed to be overlooked for the sport’s pinnacle event.
“It only comes around every four years. I was lucky enough to experience it on home soil last time. It’ll probably hit me a bit once the tournament starts and you’re watching on TV,” Hazlewood said.
“It’s pretty hard. It’s not just a normal ODI series, it’s a World Cup.
“Not playing cricket for four months went against me. I can see their side of things.”
The second ODI between England and Australia will commence on Sunday evening at 10pm AEST.