Men’s Ashes 2021-22 – Pickers ready for ‘tough talks’ over Australia’s bowling depth


Josh Hazlewood will be trusted with his fitness, while Mitchell Starc will hardly be rotated

Australia’s selectors will put their trust in Josh Hazlewood’s judgment as they weigh out tough choices with five quick sprints ahead of the fourth Ashes Test.

Hazlewood came through about 35 minutes of gentle bowling in the MCG nets on Thursday, and still appeared in some discomfort on returning from a side load.

The session was Hazlewood’s first bowling in almost three weeks, after injuring his side in the Ashes opening at Gabba and missing the next two tests.

With the series already wrapped up in Australia’s favor, there is some argument that Hazlewood should have more time to recover. But Chief Electoral Officer George Bailey said his panel would not hold Hazlewood back if it fits.

“I have pretty good faith that Hoff knows his own body and trusts his own body,” Bailey said. “He will build up as he would before any kind of test. He will talk a lot [assistant] Andrew McDonald and [physio] David Beakley to see how he feels. If Hoff has confidence and he says he has the right to go, I think we’ll back him up. He has earned that trust. “

Bailey also indicated that Australia’s innings win in Melbourne meant Mitchell Starc would not be sitting out in Sydney, despite being the only one quick not to miss a test this summer.

Starc was required to bowl only 25 overs at MCG, and Australia’s early win gave him days off four and five without even bowling in the nets and a week between tests.

“Your plans are constantly changing because you have no idea how many overs the bowlers are going to bowl,” Bailey said. “So you have to stay pretty fluid around it. Today would have been, would have been day five. So our fast, especially not having as big a workload as they had in Adelaide and a few extra days off will all work to their advantage. “

Captain Pat Cummins, who missed the second Test due to a Covid scare, is a paceman who is sure to play. If other regulars Starc and Hazlewood both play, it means there will be no room for debutant Scott Boland despite his stunning 6 for 7 performance at debut at MCG.
Jhye Richardson would also miss out after sitting out the Melbourne Test with less soreness in his legs after his match-winning five-wicket move in Adelaide.

At best, there could be room for one of them, which created a tough situation for the selectors as Richardson was over Boland in the pick order before Melbourne.

“It’s a headache. It’s a big headache,” Bailey said. “Of course some difficult conversations to be had at some point.”

The other key in the works could still be Mitchell Swepson, if Australia sees a turnaround wicket in Sydney and decides to play two spinners, with all-rounder Cameron Green as the third sailor.

“We have no doubt Swepo is ready, whether it’s at SCG or whether it’s sometime in the future,” Bailey said. “We would not love anything more for him to have an opportunity, but it will probably be conditional.”

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