Qantas Ashes Tour England

Hazlewood has Saker on call for Ashes

Test spearhead will turn to the former fast bowling coach as he prepares for his second overseas Ashes tour

Martin Smith

14 February 2019, 03:20 PM AEST

David Saker won't be a part of Australia's Ashes campaign this year, but star quick Josh Hazlewood will still look to tap into the former bowling coach's extensive knowledge during the series.

Hazlewood says he was "shocked" by Saker's resignation last week, the ex-England bowling mentor departing just months out from Australia's four-month tour of the UK for their World Cup and Ashes campaigns.

Hazlewood says Saker's experience with the England side has been crucial in developing his own understanding of bowling with the English Dukes ball ahead of what will be his second Ashes series in the UK.

And while Saker is no longer part of the Aussie set-up, he remains just a phone call away.

"He's a great fella and I can call him at any time to discuss anything to do with bowling," Hazlewood told cricket.com.au today at the launch of the Grassroots Cricket Fund, which will pump $30 million into cricket clubs around the country.

"He's quite close with all the bowlers who've played for Australia in the last couple of years.

"He was with England for quite a while and worked with Jimmy (Anderson) and Stuey Broad, who are masters of it (bowling in England). I've taken bits from him and it's going to be a shame not to have him in England. But he's been giving us that information over the last few years anyway.

"I was pretty shocked (that he left). It's pretty disappointing, but obviously he's going a different way now and good luck to him.

"I'm sure he'll be fine finding another job. He's a fantastic bowling coach; he sums things up so quickly and picks up things that others might not."

Saker's long-term successor is yet to be confirmed, with Troy Cooley – another former England bowling coach – to take over on an interim basis for the upcoming tour of India.

The announcement of Saker's departure came just days before it was confirmed former skipper Ricky Ponting will join Australia's coaching staff for the World Cup campaign, with head coach Justin Langer re-shaping his support staff following his first summer in the top job.

Ponting will be with the side as a temporary consultant for the 50-over event, but Hazlewood says he'd rather Saker's replacement be on a full-time basis.

"I still think you need someone there all the time," he said.

"You might have five quicks and an allrounder in an Ashes squad, say, which is quite a big proportion (of the squad). You're always working on something, whether that's in the nets or in a game, so I think it's a pretty crucial role."

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Hazlewood is confident he'll overcome a back injury in time for Australia's World Cup defence in June and July and he already has one eye on the Ashes series that follows; he'll use the English Dukes ball in training during his rehab as well the white Kookaburra that will be used for the World Cup.

The right-armer took 16 wickets in four Tests on Australia's unsuccessful Ashes tour four years ago and he's confident of a better showing this year despite not having played red-ball cricket in the UK since, with the packed international schedule all but denying him the option of exploring a deal to play county cricket.

Having been self-critical in the wake of that 2015 tour of his inability to control the Dukes ball to his liking, the 28-year-old said today it was his inexperienced body more than his lack of skill that hurt him the most.

Australia win second Ashes Test Lord's 2015
Australia win second Ashes Test, Lord's 2015

And he's confident he and his pace-bowling partners, which could include the likes of Peter Siddle, Jhye Richardson and James Pattinson alongside himself Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, have learned valuable lessons from that 2015 defeat.

"I think I started very well (in 2015) … and then fell away a little bit," he said. "And I think that was due to my body and playing my first solid 12 months of cricket.

"I was pretty happy with how I bowled in the first three games and I controlled it pretty well with the swing and seam on offer.

"Manchester and Lord's and The Oval are a lot different to Edgbaston and Trent Bridge, so you have to weigh it up.

"Pace, sometimes, isn't everything in England. It can sometimes make it easier to bat.

"I think the attack will chop and change according to where we're playing."