Champions Trophy 2017 May 29, 2017

Determined Hastings fights way back from 'pretty flat spot'


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Familiarity with English conditions could aid Hastings

Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood, Pattinson.

Youth and speed, the pace quartet of the future, together at last.

Such is the buzz surrounding the prospect of an Australian pace combination that has long promised but not yet fulfilled, that it would perhaps be easy to overlook the strong claims of John Hastings.

Just last year the burly allrounder was a regular in the Australian ODI squad and was the second-highest ODI wicket-taker overall for 2016 (29 wickets at 24.13) when, to the surprise of many observers, he was dropped ahead of a series against New Zealand. Shocked by the selectors' decision, Hastings suffered a further blow when he injured his knee during a Sheffield Shield match.

He feared his international career was finished.

"I think the early diagnosis for my injury was quite bad and I thought that could have been it, no doubt," Hastings said. "But once they got in there and had a look, it wasn't so bad. Nine-ten months [out of the game] came down to about four months, so that the Champions Trophy was well in my mind.

"Having a good 12 months and then missing out on that New Zealand series was tough to take, and then obviously I got injured and missed the rest of the summer. So I was in a pretty flat spot at times during the Big Bash, but once I had the operation and got into my rehab I got out of that and I got focused on what I needed to do to get here."

Hastings signed on for Worcestershire this season, extending the experience of English conditions he had gained playing for Durham, but when Australia selector Trevor Hohns called him last month, Hastings wasn't sure if the news was good or bad. It turned out to be both.

"I thought he might be ringing for one of two things; either to tell me I don't have a Cricket Australia contract or tell me I was in [the squad]," Hastings said. "And it was both in one. So it wasn't too bad, it was bittersweet. He's been brilliant. Very good communication over those six months, working towards this tournament to try and be ready for it.

"Over the past six months, everything I've been doing is to just be ready for this Champions Trophy. I gave myself a little tiny pat on the back on getting here, but now I really, really want to do well."

While he was disappointed that Australia's final warm-up was washed out after just 10.2 overs, Hastings believes his recent experience in the Royal London One Day Cup - where he played seven matches, taking ten wickets at 37.60 - has ensured he is as well prepared as any of his team-mates should he be called into the XI against New Zealand on Friday.

"I am 31-years-old now and like to think I have enough experience to know what is needed to get over these next couple of days at training to hit the ground running on Friday," he said. "I think that's probably one of the main reasons I am in the squad, because I have played in these conditions over the last three-and-a-half years. Every chance I get, I love playing for Australia and it will be no different in these three round games and hopefully the semis and the final."

The time spent in county cricket has also given Hastings a close-up view of the hosts, particularly former Durham team-mate, Ben Stokes, a player he rates as having few weak spots and who, he admitted, left him "in awe" even before he was selected in the England squad. And, despite England's thrashing by South Africa in their final ODI before the start of the Champions Trophy, Hastings believes they are leading the pack heading into the tournament.

"I think English cricket domestically in white ball is as good as any domestically around the world that I've played in. And I think they've got some great players and obviously they go quite hard. I saw a stat the other day that their last 10 innings batting first they've got over 330 [sic], so they're an exciting outfit and I think they're starting to find a combination that works well with the ball. So I think they've got to be the hot favourites and the ones that we've got to knock off."

Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AussieSam on May 31, 2017, 10:22 GMT

    It really amazes me how much stick Warner gets from Aussie fans. The guy made 1,300 ODI runs last year at an average of 63 with 7 centuries. As an opener. He's already followed that up with two more centuries including a record opening partnership. He is without a doubt one of the best openers Australia has ever produced. Anyway, I'm fascinated to see what our bowling combination is going to be. Personally, I think with the way we can expect the pitches to play, we need to get Zampa in to take wickets in the middle overs. While I do think that Head has proven he can do a job keeping the run rate down and picking up the odd wicket, it just seems too dangerous to go in with 4 quicks unless we know there is going to be plenty of assistance for them. If we have to only choose 3 quicks then I think it has to be Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins -- as much as I rate Hastings and as much as I would love to see Patto unleash and prove all those people calling him a long form specialist wrong.

  • CricketChat on May 30, 2017, 15:30 GMT

    Though Hastings made it back to the team, a feat in itself to be praised, he would be the first one to know that he is only a failure or two from being discarded permanently from the national side. He is a wholehearted cricketer who gives 100% all the time, so I hope this realization will provide him with all the motivation he needs to try his best and hang on to his place for the foreseeable future.

  • cricfan09356983 on May 30, 2017, 14:55 GMT

    aussies always have such vast crop of players to choose or the other will always miss out on the spot

  • People_Vultures on May 30, 2017, 9:36 GMT

    Seems to me he was made the scapegoat of the bowling woes the Aussies experienced on their 0-5 tour of SA. Before that he was performing well, especially in Sri Lanka. Just shows how much a bowling attack is a unit. It was hardly his fault alone and unfair to be dropped but at least he's got another shot.

  • Luca Cugini on May 30, 2017, 9:25 GMT

    I think that Australia with Hastings and the rest have the best bowling attack by quite a distance in this tournament, and because the wickets are flat bowling becomes especially important, I think Australia's batting isn't quite as good as SA ENG and maybe IND in these conditions but, they don't exactly have a bad batting lineup, I think they have the firepower in the bowling and the depth that no one else has, I think this is the XI that they will go with: 1 Finch 2 Warner 3 Smith 4 Head 5 Lynn 6 Maxwell 7 Wade 8 Hastings 9 Starc 10 Cummins 11 Hazelwood, the 2 spinning all rounders provide a good option and Head's bowling is underrated, I think that Head is becoming a good cricketer for Australia and has proven his worth with both bat and ball, Lynn and Maxwell are a bit hit and miss but with Wade and Hastings they bat very deep.

  • Worst#1SideEverIndia on May 30, 2017, 8:54 GMT

    Warner Finch Smith Maxwell Head Wade Stoinis Hastings Starc Cummins Hazelwood would be my pick. Obviously Stoinis is suspect and I'd probably have NCN instead of Hazelwood. Pattinson is test match material batting and bowling.

  • true-cricket_lover on May 30, 2017, 8:27 GMT

    I don't think going with 4 out-and-out aggresive quick bowlers is a good way to do in these belter of wickets in England. If the wickets are conducive to pace then no one would fight back these dream quartet but looking at the surfaces I was having a feeling that this back fire at Oz good time. Having no bowler to tidy the things down is down fall written all over it.

  • Big-Dog on May 30, 2017, 7:09 GMT

    Australias bowling attack is not the problem, its their brittle batting with only Smith as a reliable scorer. I note Warner failed again in the second warmup game. His continued lack of form in the limited over game must be of concern. Finch, Maxwell, Lynn, Henriques are all inconsistent & Aust doesnt have much else.

  • GoodAreasShane on May 30, 2017, 6:00 GMT

    I like Hastings, the sort of guy who got where he did through hard work and persistence. Not sure if he will be in the starting XI, but if he is he will be holding up an end with solid line and length as per usual.

  • cricfan1526790275 on May 30, 2017, 4:58 GMT

    Play Stoinis in front of Hastings and Henriques, Stoinis is a huge hitter if cricket ball and a handy baller, best all rounder Aus have at moment just Squeezing out Faulkner who unbelievably is not in this squad, he is way better than Henriques

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