June 3, 2023

Injured Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood is hoping to make himself available for selection for the Boxing Day Test against South Africa while admitting his repeated side injuries could be the cost of trying to be a three-format fast bowler.

Hazlewood has missed Australia’s last two Test matches, including the first Test against South Africa in Brisbane, due to a side strain he suffered during the first Test against West Indies in Perth three weeks ago.

The 31-year-old had a solid bowl in the nets on Sunday and said his chances of being available for Boxing Day were improving by the day.

“[My chances are] much better after today’s session,” Hazlewood told Channel Seven. “Went very much according to plan and pushed upwards of 90% for a couple of deliveries. It’s all about the next three or four sessions before that [session on December] 24th and I can really tick it off. Everything is feeling really nice and I’m not noticing the side at all so fingers crossed.

“I had a little bowl on Friday back in Sydney and started up off a few steps and pushed back to a half-run on Friday and today went really well. I pushed back to pretty much full run-up and around 85-90% intensity. Everything is ticking along nicely and going according to plan.”

“Maybe that’s the cost of playing all three formats and putting all your energy into every game you play. I might have to look at that and find a way around it somehow.”

Josh Hazlewood

The Perth Test was Hazlewood’s first since March and just his third since January 2021. During last summer’s home Ashes series against England. Hazlewood suffered another side strain in the first Test in Brisbane, which was understood to be different from this current injury and missed the final four Tests of the series. He then played the first Test of the Pakistan tour but was left out of the final two Tests and Australia’s next two Tests in Sri Lanka in June and July when Australia selected two spinners.

While not playing much Test cricket, Hazlewood has reached No.1 in the world in the T20I bowling rankings this year and become a highly sought-after player in the IPL.

He admitted that becoming a three-format player, having dropped out of Australia’s white-ball calculations in 2019-20 before his re-emergence, may have contributed to the injury issues that have seen him play so little Test cricket in the last two years.

“It’s been a bit of a frustrating period,” Hazlewood said. “Especially red ball. White ball has been going great. Maybe that’s the cost of playing all three formats and putting all your energy into every game you play. You don’t have that time to build your strength up or workloads up and get ready for a Test match. I might have to look at that and find a way around it somehow.”

If he passes his fitness test at Australia’s main training session on December 24, Hazlewood’s availability creates a selection headache for Australia. Scott Boland has continued his outstanding form at Test level as Hazlewood’s replacement in Adelaide and Brisbane picking up seven wickets across the two games to maintain his staggering Test average at just 10.36. Boland will also be returning to his home ground at the MCG on Boxing Day where he has an extraordinary record in first-class cricket and took stunning figures 6 for 7 on Test debut last year against England.

Hazlewood was chosen ahead of Boland for the first Test of the summer against West Indies when both men were fit and available and is seen by the selectors as a first-choice Test bowler when fit, given his career record.

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