Wednesday, May 22, 2024

ICC: Hazlewood proves tried and tested methods sometimes work best

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Photo Credit: BCCI

If there is one lesson worth learning when it comes to Australian cricket, it’s that you should write Josh Hazlewood off at your peril.

If there is one lesson worth learning when it comes to Australian cricket, it’s that you should write Josh Hazlewood off at your peril.

The fast bowler spent 1,626 days in international T20 exile after the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in 2016 but has come roaring back into the fold.

After establishing himself as a Test match demon in the intervening period, Hazlewood showed his traditional skillset can still do the business in the shortest form by impressing with miserly spells for the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash.

Soon international recognition and the IPL came calling for the 30-year-old quick, who prepared for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 in the best possible fashion by helping Chennai Super Kings win the latest edition.

Hazlewood played a vital turn in that final victory over Kolkata Knight Riders, dismissing opposition captain Eoin Morgan, England’s leader at this tournament, and finishing with two for 29 from his four overs.

The debate before Australia’s Super 12 opener against South Africa was whether Justin Langer would plump for his three frontline fast bowlers in Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc.

He did and was dutifully rewarded for showing faith in the experienced trio as together they recorded excellent figures of five for 68 in a combined 12 overs to help Australia to a five-wicket win in the opening game of the Super 12 stage in Abu Dhabi.

Hazlewood was the star, bowling 11 dot balls in his first 12 deliveries on his way to figures of two for 19 and was awarded the player of the match award after Australia chased down South Africa’s 118 for nine with two balls to spare.

He said: “I think length was the key, hitting the right length, just on top of the stumps. Anything slightly short or fuller seemed easy, so length was key. 

“The wicket seamed reasonably good, but it was a little bit stoppy, a little bit slow. It plays that way during the day and gets easier at night. 

“We’ve got a number of all-rounders and Maxi [Glen Maxwell] was the man today to bowl the four. It sort of got close in the end but we’ve got finishers and we were confident in them.”

Hazlewood is proof that bowling a Test match-style length can pay dividends at the top of the order, something he spoke about during the recent IPL.

During the tournament, he told Star Sports: “I think it [Test-match] length can work at certain times and the batter is probably going to use his feet or get deep in the crease or try something. You got to sort of be ready for that and try and pre-empt that I guess.”

He is certainly one to watch for the remainder of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, a tournament he was a massive long-shot to even play in just over a year ago.

Rumour has it that years ago Hazlewood’s friends and family are alleged to have cashed in by putting money on him to play for Australia at big odds when he was still just a youngster, so given his track record of coming good, you would not bet against him playing a key role in taking his country deep into the competition.

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