Josh Hazelwood wants to play County Cricket ahead of 2019 Ashes tour
Australia’s Josh Hazelwood has revealed his desire to play in England’s County Championship as part of preparations for the Australia’s 2019 Ashes tour, cricket.com.au reports. However, the 25-year-old stressed that the chances of the dream being fulfilled are highly unlikely due to the packed international calendar.
Hazlewood has for long been earmarked by Cricket Australia as a bowler with immense potential and accordingly, has been handled with much care. Having reached the landmark of 50 Test wickets in just his 12th match – faster than the likes of Australian legends like Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, and Mitchell Johnson – it's safe to say that Hazlewood has lived up to his potential thus far.
Despite tasting immense success with the national team, Hazlewood’s biggest disappoint yet remains the 2015 Ashes defeat at the hands of arch-rivals England, where in spite of bagging 16 wickets at a healthy average of just under 25, he failed to rise to the level expected of him as the team’s premier opening bowler. Hazlewood believes practicing with the Duke ball used in England can help him sort things better, next time around.
"I'd love to if time permits," Hazlewood said when asked whether he was interesting in playing County cricket. "It's obviously worked for people in the past to get some experience in those conditions with the ball.”
Hazlewood, who had opted out of the 2015 IPL edition after being picked by Mumbai Indians at the player auctions in order to keep himself fresh for the Ashes series, admits that managing time will remain the biggest issue.
“The cricket is so full-on playing for Australia in three formats, there's not much time to really do anything,” he said. "If the opportunity presents itself then I'd jump at it but at this stage, it's pretty full-on."
Mitchell Johnson defends Hazlewood’s 2015 Ashes performance
The now-retired Mitchell Johnson, who was the first change bowler for Australia during that Ashes tour, defended Hazlewood saying that undue pressure was being put on the youngster and that fans were expecting a bit too much.
"I think we probably put a bit too much pressure on Josh Hazlewood, being his first time over there (in the UK),” Johnson said. “What he'd been doing in his first season of international cricket had been amazing (and there was) a lot of talk about him, but it's a different pressure when you're over there.”
Johnson instead put the blame on himself for not playing up to the standards expected of him.
"I probably just lost focus of my role a little bit," Johnson said recently, reflecting on the Ashes loss. "And I felt like I tried to adapt my game around the team a bit.”