Josh Hazlewood, one of a kind
Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood is doing something extraordinary in T20 cricket and we are seeing it unfold right before our eyes.
Waiting for his turn
For the longest time, Hazlewood who is a regular in Test cricket for Australia was not part of Australia’s best XI in T20 cricket. He was behind Kane Richardson in the pecking order and if three pacers represented Australia in a T20 International, they were Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Richardson.
However, over the last two years, Hazlewood has refined his T20 skills. Instead of adding something extraordinary to his armour, he has retro-fitted his skills in test match cricket to the T20 format and is reaping the rewards for that.
Hazlewood really came into his own from IPL 2021 onwards when he played for Chennai Super Kings ahead of Lungi Ngidi. He played a major role in guiding Chennai Super Kings to the IPL title, taking 11 wickets from just 9 matches and blossomed in the UAE leg of the competition.
He maintained an economy rate of 8.37 and made it a habit to pick wickets in the powerplay.
Starring for RCB
He was snaffled up by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL 2022 mega auctions and repaid the faith of the RCB management as the leader of the pack as far as pacers are concerned.
Hazlewood took 20 wickets from 12 matches at an average of 18.85 and an economy rate of 8.1.
The bowler has risen steeply in the ICC T20 bowlers rankings as well and currently sits at the top of the charts. It is amazing for a bowler who wasn’t able to make it to the playing XI of his national side a couple of years ago to now rule the world in T20 cricket.
It has been a truly inspirational turnaround from the Australian quick.
Role at T20 WC
Hazelwood did not pick up a truckload of wickets for Australia in the 2021 T20 World Cup but bowled with a lot of control and the batters found it extremely hard to get him away.
Hazlewood is expected to play a crucial role for the side in the 2022 T20 World Cup as well which will be played in Australia. The bounce he extracts from the surface at around 140 kph will become more steep on the Australian surfaces and there are not many who know those conditions better than Hazlewood.
It will be interesting to see how some of the bog hitters like Jos Buttler and Rishabh Pant counter that and whether or not Hazlewood comes out on top yet again.