London: Ace Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of the WTC final against India, set to be played at the Oval from June 7. Michael Neser has replaced Hazlewood in the Australian team for the WTC final.
Australia selector George Bailey confirmed that Hazlewood was close to regaining full fitness but given Australia’s hectic schedule, including the Ashes, the team is not taking any risk with the star pacer. Hazlewood has been struggling with an Achilles and side issue which also cut short his IPL stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Hazlewood is expected to be fit for the first Ashes Test, starting on June 16.
“Josh was very, very close to being given the green light but we are cognisant that our upcoming schedule means this is not a one-off Test match of us,” Chair of Selectors George Bailey said.
“Michael’s County form has been strong and knowing that he was going to be close by allowed for him to keep playing and for us to be able to call on him. He is a great strength to have as part of the fast bowling group.
“This will give Josh an ideal preparation leading into Edgbaston. With six Test matches in a little over seven weeks we will need all of our fast bowling assets.”
Meanwhile, in a recent chat with cricket.com.au, Hazlewood had admitted that he might not be able to play WTC final and the first Ashes Test together so he may have to sit out of one of the two Tests.
“It’s probably one or the other for me at this stage,” Hazlewood told cricket.com.au when asked about the likelihood of playing in both those crucial fixtures.
“Just being over here for the last week and bowling in England, it does feel a lot easier on the body compared to Australia or India where it can be hot, the wickets are really hard and you’ve got to bend your back to get something out of them.
“In England it feels like you can just take that a couple of per cent off, bowl a bit within yourself and the wicket does enough for you.”
Aussie coach Andrew McDonald said that winning the WTC final is important for Australia but with Ashes lined up, managing the workload of the fast bowlers is equally important.
“We’ve got the WTC final to play, which we are excited about, but on the back of that we have to quickly turn our attention to England and the Ashes. There are short turnarounds there. That’s nothing we’re not used to.
“So, there’ll always be considerations around management … I’d say there’d be some moving parts amongst the quicks.”
Updated Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, David Warner
Standby players: Mitch Marsh, Matthew Renshaw