India v England Men's - Tests
Go England?! Hazlewood, Aussies doing the unthinkable
Australia are relying on results going their way in the India-England Test series in order to make the World Test Championship decider later this year
17 February 2021, 12:19 PM AEST
Next summer, Josh Hazlewood and his Australian teammates will be doing all they can to hammer England but right now they are doing the unthinkable: cheering on their Ashes rivals.
Having lost the Vodafone Test Series 2-1 to India, Australia slipped to third on the World Test Championship (WTC) standings behind India and New Zealand, with the top two teams to compete in the final in the UK this winter.
The postponement of their three-Test tour of South Africa took Australia's fate out of their hands and now need England to beat India 2-1 or draw with Virat Kohli's side if they are to sneak back into the top two and qualify for the final.
England won the first Test before India emphatically bounced back to level the series in Chennai, with Hazlewood keeping a closer eye on the series than he was expecting.
"I probably wouldn't be watching it at all in normal cases," Hazlewood said on The Unplayable Podcast.
"But we're riding the result a bit and just keeping an eye on it here and there and hopefully England can do a good job for us.
"It's a strange feeling, although just being beaten by India you don't mind … going for England."
Under the WTC points system, there are 120 points up for grabs in each Test series, split between the number of matches played in that series (ie, a two-Test series means each Test is worth 60 points, while a five-Test series means each Test is worth 24 points).
Due to COVID-19's impact on the Test schedule, teams are ranked on the WTC standings by their percentage of points earned, or PCT. It is calculated as the percentage of the points won by a team from a Test series out of the total number of points contested.
For example, Australia have a PCT of 69.2 for their 332 points won out of the total 480 points up for grabs in the four series played in this WTC cycle.
Australia would have guaranteed their place in the final had they toured South Africa and defeated the Proteas 2-0 or 3-0.
But that opportunity was dashed when the tour was postponed earlier this month due to health concerns as South Africa continues to battle a second wave of COVID-19 and a new variant of the coronavirus.
Hazlewood says it was the right call to postpone the tour but was keen to get back out on the park and make amends for the loss to India and push for a spot in the WTC final.
"You never want to miss a Test tour which is probably why it was such a difficult decision and it really hurts our chances in the Test Championship as well," he said.
"It takes that (playing in the final) out of our hands and we have to watch this series going on now (in India) and focus on that and try and get the right result there.
"It's disappointing we could potentially miss out on that (the WTC final) and that's why it was such a difficult decision to make."
However, Australia would not be in this position had they defeated an under-manned India on home soil.
After romping to an eight-wicket win in Adelaide, where India were bowled out for a record low score of 36, Australia were outplayed for the remainder of the series, losing in Melbourne, unable to crack the tourists on the final day in Sydney and beaten in Brisbane for the first time since 1988.
Hazlewood says the Australia Test camp has reviewed the series defeat, the second time in three summers India has beaten the Aussies in their own backyard.
"We tried our best at the time and looking back we could have done a few things differently here and there, obviously in those last two games," said Hazlewood.
"But I think Melbourne goes under the radar a bit too, we didn't play great cricket there and got beaten pretty comprehensively.
"The last two Tests we were frontrunning the whole game, didn't quite get there in Sydney and they played beautifully the last day in Brisbane.
"But in general, pretty proud with how we went about it, just got beaten by a better team on the day."