Hazlewood's long road back to Aussie T20 team
A first-choice bowler in two formats and star of the Sydney Sixers title run, Josh Hazlewood is down the pecking order in the shortest format with a World Cup looming
13 February 2020, 05:27 PM AEST
Paceman Josh Hazlewood starred with the ball in Sydney Sixers' KFC BBL title run but says cracking into Australia's established T20 team is a tough task.
Hazlewood was named in Australia's ODI squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa but was overlooked for the T20 component, conceding right now he is not a three-format player for his country.
The right-armer played five matches for the Sixers in BBL|09, taking five wickets while conceding just 6.22 runs per over to be the champions' most economical bowler.
In the Final win over Melbourne Stars, Hazlewood collected 1-18 from three overs, made up of nine dot balls and just two of his 18 deliveries being hit to the boundary.
While those numbers demand attention from the national selectors, they would be hard pressed to change the current T20 team which did not lose a match in 2019, winning series against India (2-0 in India), Sri Lanka (3-0 at home) and Pakistan (2-0 at home).
A major part of that unbeaten run was the formidable bowling unit, with the quintet of Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar playing in at least five of the possible seven matches last year.
Hazlewood hoped his BBL form might have seen him earn selection but admits it might take an injury for him to be recalled to the T20 side for the first time since the last T20 World Cup in 2016.
"That was the reason I played the Big Bash was to get an opportunity in the T20s," Hazlewood said in Sydney today.
"It's hard to break into that team – they played two series in the summer and didn't lose a game and everyone played their role.
"It's a tough team to break in to but we'll see moving forward there's an opportunity
"There's no real spots available. Injuries always happen to fast bowlers so I'll keep doing what I'm doing.
"I felt quite comfortable out there and managed to get five games in the end and managed to do quite well in them which was great.
"I bowled in each part of the game – start, middle and the end.
"I'm feeling quite confident with whichever role I need to do and I enjoyed it."
While Hazlewood is an automatic selection in Australia's Test team and has won a World Cup with the 50-over side, he has not been able to nail it in the T20 format at the highest level.
In his seven T20 internationals, the 29-year-old has captured eight wickets, with 4-30 his best against England in 2014, while going for 9.60 runs per over.
The jam-packed international schedule has seen Hazlewood preserved primarily for Test and 50-over cricket, which is why he does not see himself as a three-format player as it stands.
But with an emphasis on T20 cricket this year ahead of the men's T20 World Cup on Australian soil from October, Hazlewood could find himself playing more 20-over cricket and pushing his case for national honours.
"I feel like I just haven't been able to get the opportunity to play enough T20 cricket to put my name in there," Hazlewood said on last week's episode of The Unplayable Podcast.
"There are specific roles that guys who are playing a lot of white ball cricket, and fair enough, they're getting picked in that.
"Scheduling was always tough, even the tours were overlapping.
"We were on a Test tour with Australia (South Africa 2018) and we were watching Australia play a T20 game. Quite a weird thing to be watching.
"The scheduling is a little bit better now with a little more emphasis on the World Cup this time around.
"Plenty of games coming up and if I can perform again on Saturday night (in the BBL Final) then that's another step closer to being that three-format player."