Bowling with the group we've at the moment is special: Josh Hazlewood

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20 Apr 2020 | 12:15 PM
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Bowling with the group we've at the moment is special: Josh Hazlewood

The Aussie pacer in an interview spoke about the current coronavirus situation, on CA's financial health, his T20 ambitions and more

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On the current financial situation at Cricket Australia

Hazlewood: It probably took me a little bit by surprise. Just due to the fact this pandemic has probably happened at a perfect time for Cricket Australia compared to the footy codes that are really in some trouble heading into their seasons. But there's going to be some impacts no doubt. We're no different to any other sport. It depends on how long it hangs around, how much it affects us. If it leads into next summer it could be quite serious, so we're playing it by ear at the moment and we'll see where we end up.

Would you guys be welcoming of any decisions that CA might take with regards to this?

We're obviously partners in the game and we've always said that. We've ridden the highs, now is the time to ride the lows a little bit. We'll see where it comes to and obviously play our part. 

How important is it to avoid - given the financial state of the game now - conflicts between the players and CA?    

I think the relationship between the ACA and CA is a lot better now. It's developed a long way in the last 18 months or two years so that will go a long way towards having this episode [play out] a lot better than last time. It's all positive from our end. And from both ends. So hopefully it's a lot better communication and I think we'll see that in the coming weeks and months.

Have you spoken to the CEO Kevin Roberts directly on the financial situation?

I haven't spoken to him as yet. I don't mind if he speaks to each one individually. It's a ACA and CA relationship, if he speaks to the board there, as long as they show a lot of transparency on all the numbers, all the players will be pretty happy with that. So as long as there's good communication between ACA and CA shown there to see exactly where we're situated at the present and moving forward.

Are you worried about the support-staff situation?

A little bit. The support staff is fantastic on tour, they do everything for us in different departments, makes our jobs a lot easier. If that's scaled back, puts a bit more emphasis on our own preparation - on what we need to do do, to play our best and not rely on all these helpers.

How do you guys react to the pay cuts? How do you put that into perspective?

It's different for each individual. People are at different stages of their career, different stages financially. It's going to be different for everyone at different levels whether they are playing for Australia, whether they are playing for 10 years, whether they are in their 1st year, they are in their state teams or they are just in BBL franchises. It's going to affect some people more harshly than others who are in a better position.

What was your first reaction when you heard about this?

It's hard as to how long this will hang around, if it carries into the India series in our summer and if that goes ahead, it's going to brush a lot of stuff under the carpet. Obviously you think about it, take precautions, we're no different to anyone else. I've started being on a budget and things like that but it's each individual, they're in different positions.

How's it bowling with Pat Cummins? What does he bring to the table?

I don't think he has mentioned being Wisden Cricketer of the year at all. He doesn't gloat too much, you have to draw things out of him sometimes. He's always a phenomenal guy around the team. Being such a young person, he is very smart, he's learnt very quickly I think, off the field as well as on, he's a fantastic cricketer and a fantastic person. He hasn't gotten ahead of himself at any stage to be honest. Just bowling not only with him but with the group we've got at the moment is pretty special times, so just try to enjoy it as long as we can, as long as we can do our jobs as individuals that will help the bowling group.

How would you feel on playing not at multiple venues this year but just at a single one like the Adelaide Oval as has been suggested recently?

It's a last sort of resort I guess. If anywhere we had to do it, Adelaide, the bowlers and batters would be happy with that. It has been the best cricket wicket in the last four-five years. I wouldn't mind it to be honest. Red-ball, pink-ball will change Test to Test. It's not ideal, we want to get all parts of Australia and challenge ourselves in all those different wickets and conditions, but if it had to happen, that's probably the best spot.

How have you been spending your lockdown?

I'm in Sydney at home at the moment. Playing a fair bit of golf at a lone club nearby. Working on the golf game a fair bit in the last few weeks. Keeping fit, so doing a bit of training most days and keeping ready when required. Not too much else at the moment, cleaning the garden, doing the lawn a little bit, PlayStation has been getting a run from time to time. Pretty low maintenance, doing stuff around the house but golf has been the main one.

Are you playing cricket on the PlayStation?

Certainly not. I'm on call of duty at the moment. A few of the guys are playing that, Mitch Starc plays a bit, Alyssa (Healy) plays a bit, so will catch up on that.

Have you been in contact with cricketers from other countries?

Not really. A few of the guys from the Australian team from time to time, there's a few workouts being going up on the Whatsapp group to have a go at. Everyone's making do with putting together gyms at home in their garages or what not. Running is a big one for the quicks, we are doing a bit of running, no-one can stop us doing that unfortunately.

The bowling unit you have currently is one of the best in Australia's history. The last trio like that was probably Warne, McGrath and Gillespie. Do you guys compare yourselves to that unit or a memory from them that inspires you guys?

I guess you'd have to ask everyone individually. But I think to a degree it does. They are probably one of the best attacks that world cricket has probably ever seen. It's certainly something to judge ourselves against and aspire to be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys, but they are phenomenal cricketers for Australia who have played for a long period of time. If we can be half as good as them or have half the number of wickets as them, then that's going to be something pretty special.

Is getting back to Bendy (a pub in Tamworth, New South Wales) on the radar? 

Probably we will come under a sense of travelling at the moment, I ducked home just before this all came about. Pretty much after that last game against New Zealand, ducked home for a week or so to catch up with family and friends. So it's great to get back there. And I guess that was a little bit different take on the virus back there until lockdown came into effect. It sort of stunned all the locals a little bit. Sort of a hideaway up there, not in touch with the news, some of them, so yeah, it is a bit different up there as well.

Just looking at your career stats, you played seven T20 internationals and it's been a while since you played the last one. This year with no IPL, it looks like, the World Cup still scheduled to go. What plans do you have to get back into that team? And with little opportunities for you to kind of show your worth? 

That's a good question. Can't do too much right now. Other than to stay fit and be ready for when everything kicks off again. But yeah, the IPL is going to be a good opportunity for me in T20 cricket and to hopefully play a few games there and do well for Chennai (Super Kings), so could put my name forward for that World Cup. But obviously even that World Cup, something there at the moment and there may be opportunities down the track before that, that gets rescheduled or whatever. Played the Big Bash as well this year, played a few games there and helped the (Sydney) Sixers to a win. Took that opportunity. And just whatever else pops up, I guess, before the World Cup is an opportunity, but at this stage, it’s pretty difficult.

Just to get your take on next summer's contracts. I suppose the dates already being pushed back and April 30 is the deadline. Do you and the boys view that as a non-negotiable? Let's say the CA attempted to push that back any further, will it be acceptable or not?

I think April 30 is what the players want and what CA want, to be honest. It's in the MOU, but these are strange times and anything can happen. Guess the ideal is it gets put out before April 30 and we'll know financially what we need to get ready for, how much of a percentage is lost and how our contracts are reflected. The earlier we know that, the more we can plan for the next 12 months.

On T20 cricket, there is almost like a three-and-a-half-year gap between the World T20 in 2016 and the Big Bash now. And they say T20 cricket keeps like changing on a daily basis. So like, how challenging was it to come back and play T20 cricket in the Big Bash last year?

Yes. A little bit different, I guess. I was sort of coming back into it after my hamstring injury. So I guess most of the focus was on how I felt physically. And I didn't probably think too much about actually playing a T20 game, was just about getting through the game and I guess, getting back on the park and being fit for Australia. Yeah, I was pretty excited, to be honest, it’s something different again even from ODI cricket, just having the batsmen come at you every ball pretty much. Certainly developed a few change-ups, added a bit more to my arsenal during that period of Big Bash and then afterwards. I was pretty happy with how it went and it hasn't changed too much. I guess that it's just about staying that one step ahead of the batters as we talk about. Yeah, it hasn't changed too much I guess from a couple of years ago.

How you guys are able to sort of shining the ball in the middle. Practicality wise do you think it would be possible for you as a fast bowler to operate without being able to shine the ball with spit and saliva as you do these days, if that was thought to be too much of a risk?

I think with a white-ball it would be fine obviously, but in Test match cricket it is going to be very hard I think. Bowlers obviously rely on any sort of sideways movement in the air or off the wicket. If you didn’t maintain the ball at all for 80 overs, it’d become quite easy to bat after probably about 15 overs, after that initial shine has gone off the ball. Whether you use saliva or sweat, maybe one person could do it? I’m not sure. It’s something we will have to talk about when we get back out there in the middle and hopefully come up with a solution.

Couple of options being discussed if the Indians can’t come next year, is one about playing Australia A in a series or perhaps they could make the Sheffield Shield in the domestic competition the sign of main focus. What would you like to prefer, take on Australia A in a series?

I think it would be exciting, it was definitely exciting when we played them in England before the Ashes started, I guess it was a bit of a mixed bag of players with strongest 24-25 players in Australia in red-ball cricket, and it was a pretty exciting game to be honest, no-one held back at all, the spots were on the line. So, I guess you have that same sort of feel in an Aussie-Aussie A game in Australia, I think Australia always loves underdogs, they will get behind the A team. As mentioned, shield cricket should go to a new level as well, with all the Aussie players playing or sort of that thing being the main focus and I think a little bit of both, to be honest if no international teams tour, I guess that will be the top-level cricket.

How do you think in your head you’re placed in Australia’s T20 bowling ranks, without the IPL and not much in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup? How do you think you fit in, do you think you’re one of our best?

Well, obviously out of the team at the moment, if you don’t play a game of cricket before the World Cup it’s going to be tough to get into that team, they have hardly lost a game in the last three or four series and all the bowlers have done their role to be honest, so yeah, it’s a tough team to crack into and with no opportunities, there is nothing more I can do for now at this point. They have obviously holding onto their spots well and if something opens up through injury or opportunity for me then I’ll take that, obviously I can’t get in, tough time to get back in.

Is that strange for you in the process, obviously that for so many years you have been seen as one or if not the best bowler in the world with the red-ball and all of a sudden you find yourself fighting for a spot in your own nation just to be recognized in this format?

It’s obviously a good place to be in as a team, as a country in T20 cricket, probably the emphasis hasn’t been put enough on T20 in the last 3 or 4 years and whenever we have been on tour it’s overlapped with Test tours. I guess it’s just getting an opportunity to play again for Australia and scheduling is probably the toughest thing to have in a place that suits everyone and that’s probably hasn’t been the case the last 3 or 4 years, I just haven't got those opportunities to play T20 cricket for Australia and it's going to happen more I think, but, yes it's about getting into that side.

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