Scott Boland may have iconic status, but Josh Hazlewood has what counts most when it comes to getting the nod in Sydney and it’s not because it’s his home Test.
Josh Hazlewood believes there is still a pecking order in Australia’s fast bowling landscape which he is confident will reward him for a return to Sydney.
Scott Boland has smashed up the pace lines and cemented himself as a national cult hero, but the big dog with 217 test wickets is ready to bark again in his own backyard.
By the Boxing Day Test, there was widespread debate as to whether Boland should now usurp Hazlewood in a selection shootout given the quality of the Victorian’s impressive record, now at 28 wickets with an exceptional average of 12.21 runs per scalp from his six games.
Boland’s meteoric rise has come courtesy of Hazlewood being absent for the past two summers with side stress injuries, but leading commentators have asked at what point does the replacement actually become incumbent?
Hazlewood’s near-certain return for the third Test against South Africa won’t necessarily be at Boland’s expense, but Hazlewood spoke with a measure of confidence as he said he felt his work across 58 Tests was being rewarded by the selectors.
“I still feel like it’s there (the pecking order) but it’s always good to have pressure. Every time Scotty has played, he has done remarkably well,” said Hazlewood.
“The ash that comes up is probably a big one that he (Boland) is looking at and he’s kind of a similar bowler to me and Pat.
“We could potentially play there all together on one wicket that could line and swing.
“It’s great to have options
“We’re all a little different, I’m probably the biggest bowler and probably get the most jump while Scotty is more of a slinger and always on the stumps.
“It’s up to the selectors what works best on a wicket like this.”
There was an outpouring of support for Boland to beat Hazlewood for a place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where he famously won 6-7 on Boxing Day earlier.
In the end, the selection shootout was short-circuited by Hazlewood (who felt his body wasn’t quite right) by gracefully pulling himself out of the race to save the selectors from the agonizing call.
“I feel like I might have been an unpopular choice,” Hazlewood admitted of his call to MCG.
“It would have been nice if (the audience) had thinned out to maybe play. But it might have been hard work down in Bay 13 for the first few days.”
Test legend Glenn McGrath, who is up for the SCG’s annual Pink Test to raise money for breast cancer, backed the pecking order that Hazlewood is set to reinstate.
Hazlewood has been compared to McGrath for his laser-like consistency, and the pair were chatting at the Prime Minister’s house on New Year’s Day when a comeback beckoned.
McGrath said autopick is something that takes a long time to earn — and he believes Hazlewood deserves those streaks.
“I’m happy about it (if Hazlewood is selected). His stats and the way he bowls speak for themselves. You can earn it and he deserves it,” McGrath said.
“He’ll be happy to come back. It’s always healthy to have competitive pressure on the wings. There’s Lance Morris and Scott Boland, who bowls well. I like this internal pressure.”
Hazlewood said the side strains – albeit in different areas – have frustrated him enormously over the past two summers, particularly when he was also ruled out from three out of four overseas test tours through Pakistan and Sri Lanka because the selection only went by two quicks .
“It’s definitely frustrating. I don’t feel like I’ve been hurt (for so long),” said Hazlewood.
“It’s just after the first test at the wrong time of year.
“The test matches are so close now that you miss a few in a row. It’s tough, but for the rest of the 24 months I was fit and fired. It’s frustrating when you think about it that way.”
Originally published as Sydney Cricket Test: All the latest selection news for the Pink Test
https://www.codesports.com.au/cricket/sydney-cricket-test-all-the-latest-selection-news-for-the-pink-test/news-story/87635f33b9d2a35e900c42452beaf734?nk=9881a2351654fc7a4ab7d90d2c8db959-1672645567 Sydney Cricket Test: All the latest selection news for the Pink Test