It won’t be wrong to define Josh Hazlewood as the modern day adaptation of the legendary Glenn McGrath. The similarity isn’t hard to make out – smooth run up to the crease with the intention…
It won’t be wrong to define Josh Hazlewood as the modern day adaptation of the legendary Glenn McGrath. The similarity isn’t hard to make out – smooth run up to the crease with the intention being accuracy more than raw pace. The agenda would more often than not be an unerring fourth or fifth stump line with a bit of swing or seam to boot. Almost the classical fast bowler. Although not in the league of McGrath yet, there is no doubt that Hazlewood would be among the best pacers to have graced the game by the time he hangs up his boots.
Such was Hazlewood’s talent from his early years that he landed a First-class debut at the age of 17 in the 2008-09 season, making him the youngest fast bowler ever to play for New South Wales. Gradually, he got initiated into the other formats in the domestic circuit and also got a surprise ODI debut in 2010 although it took another three years for him to play another 50-over game. Being young and raw,
Hazlewood clearly was a work in progress but the selectors were keeping an eye on him. A strong 2013-14 home season saw him come of age and it was only a matter of time before he took international cricket by storm.
Hazlewood debuted in Tests during the 2014-15 home series against India and started with a bang, a fifer on debut at the Gabba. It was a trailer of what was to come as he climbed up the ladder steadily to become one half of Australia’s lethal new-ball attack along with Mitchell Starc. If his partner was a devastating left-arm pacer who relied a lot on speed through the air, Hazlewood’s mantra was to stick to the basics of line and length. The policy worked for him and complemented Starc beautifully too.
With Starc being injury prone, Hazlewood has had to shoulder a lot of extra responsibility at times and he has shown that he relishes the baggage. While he has shown his skills at home and also overseas on seamer-friendly conditions, Hazlewood has also bowled with a lot of heart in the sub-continent, making ample use of reverse swing along with his accuracy to trouble batsmen. The 2015 Ashes series was an aberration for him as he couldn’t quite make use of pitches that had movement in them. Having said that, the first tour of England for any visiting fast bowler is a challenge and to be fair to Hazlewood, he was still a rookie in international cricket.
Hazlewood shone in the 2017-18 Ashes campaign at home as the Aussies regained the urn after five years. He will be keen to make a mark in England during the next Ashes series that will be in England in 2019. Apart from being a successful Test bowler, Hazlewood has done well in ODIs as well. His unrelenting accuracy has stifled a lot of batsmen and he has also tried to add up a few variations up his sleeve to suit the format. Although pace isn’t exactly his strength, the 2017-18 season saw Hazlewood improve his speeds considerably, clocking around 87-88 mph on an average quite consistently. While the pace has improved, the accuracy has stayed which means that Hazlewood’s efficiency has doubled.
However, there was a set back of some sorts as Hazlewood was overlooked for the WC. But in Test cricket, he remained a strong resource with his nagging lines and ability to move the ball. As far as T20 Leagues go, Hazlewood isn’t that popular owing to his Test-match style of bowling. Naturally, he hasn’t had many takers in the IPL too. In the 2020 auctions, CSK snapped him up in a bid to boost their pace-bowling stocks. He’ll be keen to make a mark and prove himself as a all-format bowler. The IPL isn’t a bad place to start.