Hazlewood withdraws from IPL, targets Shield final

Australia quick considering the hectic international schedule across 2021 and beyond as he pulls out of stint with Chennai

Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood has opted out of the 2021 Indian Premier League season to recharge his batteries ahead of another big year of international cricket.

Hazlewood was set to depart with Australia's IPL-bound players today and link back up with franchise Chennai Super Kings, with whom he played last season when the tournament was staged in the UAE in late 2020.

But having been in various bio-secure bubbles and hubs from last August to January this year, the 30-year-old has decided to forgo the IPL to refresh and spend time at home with friends and family.

"It's been a long 10 months in bubbles and quarantine at different times, so I decided to have a rest from cricket and spend some time at home and in Australia in the next two months," Hazlewood told on Wednesday. 

"We've got a big winter ahead too. The West Indies is going to be a long tour, with Bangladesh (T20 tour) potentially thrown on the end of that.

"Then potentially the T20 World Cup leading into the Ashes, so it's a big 12 months, as it always is with Australia, and I want to give myself the best chance to be mentally and physically ready for that. 

"That's the decision I've made, and it sits pretty well with me."

Hazlewood, and his national teammates, were put under restrictions from July last year before he left for England with Australia's limited-overs team where he was in strict bio-secure lockdown before heading to the UAE where again safety protocols were tight.

His return to Australia in November started with two weeks in hotel isolation in Adelaide before moving into the men's international bubble which also contained rivals India.

The bubble with India ended in late January and it wasn't meant to be long before Hazlewood was set to quarantine again having been named in Australia's Test squad to travel to South Africa. 

But that tour was postponed due to safety reasons and he has since been representing NSW at domestic level.

The right-armer follows Josh Philippe and Mitchell Marsh in withdrawing from the IPL, while it is understood other Australians have considered opting out.

Hazlewood played just three games for CSK in IPL 2020 and would have been competing with the likes of England pair Moeen Ali and Sam Curran, Proteas quick Lungi Ngidi and Windies veteran allrounder Dwayne Bravo for a bowling spot in the XI.

CSK's loss is NSW's gain, with Hazlewood now available for the back end of the domestic season. 

He picked up 2-31 in the Blues' comprehensive win over Queensland at North Sydney Oval which locked in NSW as hosts of the Marsh One-Day Cup final, while the Blues are in second spot on the Marsh Sheffield Shield table with one round to play.

Star-studded Blues too strong for Queensland

Hazlewood will not have had the bowling under his belt to face the Bulls in Wollongong from Saturday but expects to be available for the Shield final should the Blues qualify.

"I haven't been bowling a great deal with plans to play T20 cricket until after this game and also the weather wrecked my chances – I probably missed five sessions outdoors," Hazlewood said yesterday.

"The workloads are a bit too low … to play (both) Wollongong and the Shield final if we make it – hopefully I can use the next two weeks to build up and if we're in the Shield final I can play that."

NSW are gunning for back-to-back Shield titles and could secure the rare double of both the four-day and 50-over competitions.

Couple that with the Sydney Sixers taking out the KFC BBL this summer and the Sydney Thunder winning the Rebel WBBL, it could be a very successful season for NSW cricket.