Aussie paceman Hazlewood declares himself fit

  • the ashes
- Agence France-Presse, SYDNEY

Nov 11, 2017-Australia paceman Josh Hazlewood said on Friday he is ready to let rip in the Ashes Test series opener with England despite having just one first-class match as preparation.

Hazlewood heads into the first Brisbane Test on November 23 on the back of a solitary Sheffield Shield match for New South Wales. But the quick looks in good nick after taking match figures of 6-73 against Western Australia from a total of 33 overs. Hazlewood will finalise his Test preparations by working out alongside fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird in Brisbane ahead of the Ashes opener.

“Things went pretty well the whole game,” Hazlewood said. “From ball one I was pretty surprised with how well the ball was coming out, how good the run-up felt, how good everything (was) in general. I’m pretty happy with where it’s at now so I don’t think there’s a need to play another game. I’m ready to go now and we obviously talk with the coaches and selectors and physios, everyone is on the same page and ready to go.”

Hazlewood, Starc and Cummins bowled to Australia’s two top batsmen, skipper Steve Smith and David Warner, in the Sydney Cricket Ground nets in a session full of intensity on Friday. Things got testy with left-armer Starc forcing Smith to duck for cover several times. 

“It’s always good fun and they (Smith and Starc) are two world-class players, so it always keeps you on your toes and makes sure you get everything out of the session,” Hazlewood said. “That’s what they’re always like. They’re always into each other and Patty (Cummins) and I just do our thing. It’s pretty easy to fire Starcy up, so Smithy takes it on. There’s no real ‘going through the motions’ when you’re bowling at those two (Smith and Warner).”

Meanwhile, fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile will take a “short break” after suffering a fresh back problem, Cricket Australia said on Friday, probably ruling him out of the coming Ashes series. Coulter-Nile, 30, has a history of spinal stress fractures and the latest setback appears to end his chances of being a back-up to pace trio Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

CA’s sports medicine manager Alex Kountouris said Coulter-Nile will have further scans over the next month to determine when he can return to bowling. Coulter-Nile has yet to play a Test match, but has made 21 one-day and 19 T20 international appearance for Australia.

Also, England’s record bowler James Anderson was named as vice-captain for the Ashes series against Australia on Friday, replacing Ben Stokes who is suspended and under investigation over a nightclub brawl. Anderson, 35, who has 506 Test wickets, was promoted as understudy to captain Joe Root ahead of fellow paceman Stuart Broad and ex-skipper Alastair Cook.

Coach Trevor Bayliss previously said he was planning for an Ashes series without Stokes, who is running out of time ahead of the first Test in Brisbane. 

Stokes remains at home awaiting the outcome of a police probe into his involvement in the brawl outside a Bristol nightclub on September 25. Lancashire bowling great Anderson is embarking on his fourth Test tour of Australia, and he looks likely to play a key role as England’s bowlers hit injury problems.

Jake Ball is to have a scan after he injured his right ankle on Thursday during England’s warm-up game against a Cricket Australia XI in Adelaide. It follows a knee injury which ruled paceman Steven Finn out of the tour. Surrey all-rounder Tom Curran has arrived as Finn’s tour replacement, while allrounder Moeen Ali continues to recover from a side strain.

Published: 11-11-2017 08:12

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