Hazlewood, who picked up sidekicks in the IPL, is still in contention for the first Ashes Test from June 16
Josh Hazlewood has lost his race to be fit for the World Championship final in Australia against India. He was replaced in the team by Michael Nesser. This leaves Scott Boland favorite for the match, which starts on 7 June at The Oval.
Hazelwood, who has suffered from side pain in the IPL, is still in the Australian squad for the Ashes, though, with chief pundit George Bailey saying he is still in contention for the first of those Tests, at Edgbaston on June 16.
“Josh was very, very close to getting the go-ahead but we know that’s our next schedule [the WTC final quickly followed by five Ashes Tests] I mean, this is not a one-off test match from us.
“This will give Josh perfect preparation ahead of Edgbaston. With six Test matches in just over seven weeks, we’ll need all our fast bowling assets.”
Neser comes on the back of an assignment with Glamorgan on the county cricket circuit. Given the uncertainty surrounding Hazlewood, Neser, along with Sean Abbott, were withdrawn from county duty to train with the Australian team in Beckenham. “Michael’s form has been solid and he knows he will come close by allowing him to continue playing and for us to be able to connect with him,” Bailey said. “He has great power as part of his fast bowling group.”
Hazlewood was withdrawn from the IPL after three matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore, by which time the decision was considered a precautionary measure, with a scan clearing him of any damage to his side. The precautions were due to his recent string of injuries, including two side strains over the past two years and an Achilles issue. All of which means he has only played four of Australia’s last 19 Test matches and has not played in consecutive first-class matches since early 2021.
He was selected for the World Tennis Championship finals to prove his fitness with heavy pre-match training loads, and as recently as May 31 he was still hoping to make it. Sunday’s announcement came after Hazelwood played three periods in practices on Saturday.
As for the other specialists in the Australian WTC team, Captain Pat Cummins is back after missing Australia’s previous two Tests, in India, due to family reasons, and Mitchell Stark is quite fit after missing the first two matches of that India series by a finger. infection.
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