Josh Hazlewood is nearing full fitness.
Josh Hazlewood is nearing full fitness.

Hazlewood ‘nervous’ over Cup call but insists he’s fit

JOSH Hazlewood has declared himself fit for purpose for Australia's World Cup defence, though admits to nerves as he awaits news of whether he will be included in the party of 15, expected to be named later this week.

The spearhead fast bowler has been sidelined since the Sydney Test with a back injury and there's been ongoing speculation selectors may leave him out of the squad in a bid to manage him correctly for the Ashes series to follow later in the year.

Hazlewood has moved to dismiss concerns over his fitness, saying he's adamant the seven-week one-day showpiece would be the "perfect" preparation for him ahead of the first Ashes Test on August1.   At the moment Hazlewood is only bowling off a couple of steps, but believes he 's on track to be fully firing by mid-May.   If selectors don't believe Australia's 2015 champion will be ready in time for the World Cup starting on June1, they may be at odds with the faith Hazlewood has in his own body to be right.   Hazlewood is confident in himself and has passed this feedback onto selectors via the medical staff but, usually one of the first-picked in any Australian team, he is unsure about where he stands after his stint on the sidelines.   "Definitely (I'm nervous). I obviously haven't played much cricket of late. and not much one-day cricket. Hopefully those (past) numbers hold me in good stead and I can play a part in the World Cup," Hazlewood said.   "I'm about as fit as I can be without a full run."  
Josh Hazlewood with Australian team members ahead of a nets session. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Josh Hazlewood with Australian team members ahead of a nets session. Picture. Phil Hillyard
"I've started bowling off a couple of steps at the moment and that'll start to ramp up pretty quick through late April into May.   "I've done a lot of work rehab wise, gym wise, running wise … the match fitness will come as we move forward into May and everything should be fine.   "There's a little bit of nerves there as there always is before a big team is selected for a tournament like this. There are probably 20 plus guys who think they're a really good chance to make it. It's a good position to be in for Australian cricket."   Not only does Hazlewood believe he can get through a World Cup and Ashes, but believes the preceding one-day tournament is the best Test match preparation he could get.   "Yeah absolutely. To be ready for that first Ashes Test you'd need to have a lot of bowling under your belt anyway," he said.   "There can't be a better spot to do it than in the World Cup.  
Josh Hazlewood is adamant the World Cup will have him primed for the Ashes campaign. Picture Sarah Reed
Josh Hazlewood is adamant the World Cup will have him primed for the Ashes campaign. Picture Sarah Reed
"One-day cricket, a couple of game a week for five or six weeks is probably the perfect prep in terms of body load.   "Getting everything ready to bowl for a Test match, it's pretty much the perfect lead in. hopefully I'm there and we can hold onto the trophy."   Much of the selection focus has centred on the game of musical chairs in the batting line-up with David Warner and Steve Smith set to knock Ashton Turner and one of either Shaun Marsh or Peter Handscomb out of the final World Cup 15.   But the bowling conundrum is just as tricky.   Jhye Richardson (shoulder) has an injury cloud over his head, while Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff are the bowlers vying for places along with Mitchell Starc and Hazlewood.   Starc, like Hazlewood, has not played since the summer. but is considered a certainty to come in given his prowess as one of the premier white-ball bowlers in the world.  
News Corp Australia

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