Ha­zle­wood tar­gets Eng­land’s bat­ting

Kuwait Times - - Sports -

SYD­NEY: Aus­tralia pace­man Josh Ha­zle­wood has warned Joe Root’s Eng­land tourists and their raft of Ashes debu­tants they risk be­ing ex­posed if their big guns don’t fire in the com­ing se­ries. Eng­land’s de­pleted squad touched down in Perth on Sun­day with­out sus­pended star all­rounder Ben Stokes. Their ar­rival co­in­cided with Ha­zle­wood’s Test pace part­ner Mitchell Starc pick­ing up a ca­reer-best eight wick­ets with the pink ball in a Sh­effield Shield match in Ade­laide.

The world num­ber two’s in­ex­pe­ri­enced bat­ting line-up has been high­lighted as its big­gest weak­ness as it aims to em­u­late the feat of An­drew Strauss’ men by be­com­ing only the sec­ond Eng­land team to re­tain the Ashes urn in Aus­tralia in 31 years.

While doubts re­main about the se­cu­rity of Aus­tralia’s top six bats­men, there is an air of con­fi­dence among their bowl­ing at­tack head­ing into the open­ing Test at the Gabba on Novem­ber 23.

“If you get him (Root), Alas­tair Cook and Jonny Bairstow, who have been scor­ing runs the last few years, it places ex­tra pres­sure on the in­ex­pe­ri­enced guys even more so,” Ha­zle­wood told Fair­fax Me­dia. “If we get the wood on them hope­fully the rest fall in line.” Only Root, Cook and Bairstow have played a Test in Aus­tralia, while Gary Bal­lance was dropped dur­ing the last Ashes se­ries and James Vince, Mark Stone­man and Dawid Malan have played a com­bined to­tal of 17 Tests with­out scor­ing a cen­tury. Root, rated the world’s sec­ond-best Test bats­man, shapes as the key wicket for Aus­tralia de­spite a hor­ror cam­paign in 2013/14 when he passed 50 once in eight in­nings and was then dropped.

“He’s a pretty good all-round player, you don’t get to the top cou­ple for no rea­son,” Ha­zle­wood said. “He seems to be scor­ing quicker at the mo­ment as well, at 80 strike-rate, the last 12 months.

“He’s def­i­nitely get­ting on with it so hope­fully that gives us an ex­tra cou­ple of op­por­tu­ni­ties. He’s got a pretty well­rounded game at the mo­ment.” Starc’s best first-class fig­ures of his ca­reer could not have come at a bet­ter time, but will also be wel­comed by the Eng­land seam­ers, par­tic­u­larly Stuart Broad.

Broad is ex­pected to be a hand­ful at Ade­laide Oval when the tourists play their first day-night Test in early De­cem­ber. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played a four­day fix­ture so it was nice to get some overs un­der the belt (37.4 for the game) and get ready for that first Test,” a fit-again Starc said on Sun­day. — AFP

Joe Root

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