Hazlewood sweating over WC selection

Melbourne: Josh Hazlewood, the Australia fast bowler, has said that he is fit for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, but admitted to some nerves, with selection to Australia’s 15-man squad not guaranteed.

Hazlewood has been sidelined with a back problem since the one-day internationals against India in Australia, but Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Kane Richardson and Jason Behrendorff have impressed in his absence.

Australia won ODI series in India and in the United Arab Emirates, against Pakistan, and with David Warner and Steve Smith in decent nick since their bans lapsed, the selectors are in a quandary as the April 23 deadline for naming the World Cup squad looms. Hazlewood insisted he is fine now – “I’ve started bowling, I’m off a couple of steps at the moment, so that will start to ramp up pretty quickly through late April and in to May” – but there is talk that he will be excluded from the World Cup to save him for the Ashes that starts in August.

However, Hazlewood believed that would be counter-productive. “To be fit and ready for that first Ashes Test, you have to have a lot of bowling under your belt anyway,” he told the Cricket Unfiltered podcast.

“There can’t be a better spot to do that than in a World Cup. One-day cricket, a couple of games a week for five or six weeks is probably perfect prep in terms of body load. Hopefully, I’m there and we can hold on to the trophy.”

The selection conundrum has left Hazlewood feeling the nerves, but he said it was all for the greater good. “There’s nerves, as there always is before a team is selected for a big tournament,” he said. “There’s probably 20-plus guys who think they’re a really good chance of making it. It’s a good position to be in for Australian cricket.” Australia will begin its World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on 1 June.