Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood believes that the slight tweak he made in his bowling action has paid off, with the results there for all to see at the Ashes.
Hazlewood picked up a back injury during the Sydney Test against India in January, and faced a long spell on the sidelines. The injury ruled him out of the World Cup as well. But, motivated as ever, he used the break to made a subtle change in his bowling action. On his comeback in the Ashes, it has worked for him: he has been one of Australia’s key weapons, having already taken 16 wickets at an average of 16.50.
During the final hour of play on Friday, September 6, the third day, Hazlewood picked up three quick wickets to bring his team back into the contest. He walked off with figures of 4-48 in 20 overs. He put his success down the newfound discipline in his bowling.
“I made a few little changes after my last injury and everything is in a great line, if that makes sense” Hazlewood said after play. “I find it not easy, but if I get everything right at my end, the right line is on off stump or just outside it. I think am bowling a lot less deliveries wide of off and on the pads due to my action.
“It’s only a little change but I have worked hard on it over March, April, even into May. I did some good work at home and reaping the benefits now.”
Hazlewood struck early in the day, as he picked up his 50th Ashes wicket, removing nightwatchman Craig Overton for 5 in the second over of play. He returned for a final burst after tea and had Rory Burns caught in the slips to give Australia a much needed break after almost 53 overs of no success. He then trapped England skipper Joe Root for 71, before uprooting Jason Roy’s middle stump five overs later.
While Mitchell Starc, playing his first game of the series, didn’t quite appear his best, Pat Cummins, the top ranked Test bowler, showed great accuracy and troubled the well-set Burns on numerous occasions, even though he couldn’t snare a wicket. Hazlewood was in awe of his teammate’s consistency.
“He’s a machine really,” Hazlewood said of Cummins. “He had all that bad [luck] with injury through his teens, early 20s and then he’s come out the other side. He’s always been a great athlete, I guess it was just a matter of time before that body hardened up and his bones hardened up. As a power and strength athlete, he’s fantastic and he’s got great endurance as well.
“He’s pretty much the all-round package. It’s pretty disheartening as well sometimes, to see [him] running all day [and not get wickets]. He’s such a great athlete and I just hope it continues for him.”