Australia in New Zealand 2015-16 February 10, 2016

Hazlewood focused on 'not trying too hard'

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Josh Hazlewood said he would bowl with more patience during the two Tests in New Zealand © Getty Images

Josh Hazlewood will lead Australia's attack in the Test series in New Zealand confident that he has learnt from the mistakes he made on last year's Ashes tour. Hazlewood will join two of James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Jackson Bird and Chadd Sayers in Australia's frontline pace attack for the first Test in Wellington and he will do so as the most consistent presence in a group that has changed significantly in the past few months.

In England for the Ashes, which was Australia's most recent overseas tour, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc were the more established members of Australia's pace line-up, but Johnson has retired since then and Starc is still recovering from ankle surgery. Hazlewood collected 16 wickets at 25.75 during that series, hardly figures to be concerned about, but he readily admits he was trying for too many wicket-taking deliveries.

What the Australians want from Hazlewood in New Zealand, where there will again be swing on offer for the fast men, is consistent lines and lengths, rather than trying too many different things. Although Australia do not have a red-ball warm-up match ahead of the first Test, some have seen something of the local conditions during three ODIs, in which Hazlewood took seven wickets, and others during a Sheffield Shield game in Lincoln.

"Three one-dayers, it's not perfect but it's pretty close I think," Hazlewood said of Australia's preparation. "The fact we've been playing in these conditions against their batting order, it's pretty similar in Test cricket and one-dayers. And a few of the guys obviously played in that Shield game [near] Christchurch. I think the build-up has been really good and we'll be ready to go.

"The wickets will do a fair bit in New Zealand, so it's a matter of putting the ball in the right area and not trying too hard. I was a victim of that in England, of trying to do too much, whereas you've still got to hit that line and length and let the ball do its work."

One area in which the Australians will need to improve is their tendency to overstep, which twice cost Pattinson the wicket of West Indian Carlos Brathwaite during the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. To that end, in the Basin Reserve nets on Wednesday they trialled a prototype of a new device that can sense where the front foot lands and determine when bowlers have delivered no-balls at training.

The Australians know that there are several batsmen in the New Zealand line-up who could punish them if given such a reprieve, most notably Kane Williamson, who did not have significant impact in the recent ODI series but piled on the runs against them at the start of the summer. Williamson also has a strong record at the Basin Reserve, where he averages 85.50 from six Tests.

"I still think he's a better Test player than a one-day player," Hazlewood said. "He's great at both but we have to get him out in Test cricket and I think the way we bowled to him in these last three games has been pretty much spot on. We've tried to tie him down and get him driving so that's going to be the key in these Test matches.

"He showed in Australia how good a player he is and I think he's got runs against every country in the world. So he knows these conditions well so we've got get on top of him and try and get him early. I think he's that rock in their order that they feed off."

However, one man who performed well during the one-day series was Martin Guptill, who made two half-centuries from three matches, but they are hopeful that under the pressure of patient red-ball cricket Guptill might return to his struggles of the past against the Australians. During the Tests in Australia earlier in the summer he struggled to have any impact, with a top score of 23.

"I think we did get the better of him in Australia," Hazlewood said of Guptill. "He plays a lot differently in Tests compared to one-dayers. He's quite confident in limited-overs games, he knows his game really well at the top of the order. But I think he's still a bit uncertain in the Test arena so we'll be looking to exploit that again and stay on top of him, as we've done in Australia."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alexk400 on February 11, 2016, 19:09 GMT

    Hazlewood always going to be erratic just like pattinson. Mercurial. Why? They are horse in chinese astrology. Here is some mercurial horses. MIKE TYSON. haha. Highly skilled but controlled by moods and emotion and do not sit and fight when things get tough. Try to run away. These type of players play well when they cajoled and praised then they put 200% effort. Their skill will do the job than mental part. So basically some one juice them up mentally , they will kill it. So smith job is keep them in high spirit. Do not over praise them and also never ever critique them. The minute they formed opinion , they become dead weight. There you go my opinion on hazlewood non cricket stuff. Skillwise he has not worked out how to bowl in swinging condition. he will do the same in nz. Watch it happen. Why? Its action issue.

  • AussieNSW on February 11, 2016, 4:18 GMT

    Good bowler who is a bit McGrath "like" but way too soon to heap pressure on in to be the next Pigeon. He seems smart enough to realize where he went wrong in England and is hopefully skillful enough to rectify it by letting the ball do the work in this series. Australia's attack looks capable but not really that potent if the wickets flatten out as the kiwi fans seem to tell us they will. The aussie batting looks a touch stronger but has a bit to prove in seaming/swinging conditions. This series will come down to belief and desire to win. NZ have the Baz motivation and the chance to knock off a big gun whilst Australia has a long winning history against NZ to protect and critics to silence that they can perform away from home. Enthralling stuff. Hope the weather lets us see as much tough cricket as possible in a series that's free of umpiring controversy. No excuses from a selected line up point of view. We'll play the cards we're dealt.The best performed side will win the day.

  • tinkertinker on February 11, 2016, 3:42 GMT

    Hazlewood was actually the best bowler in the match during the day/night test which had a green pitch, the issue is though can out batsmen actually give him runs to work with?

    If we get rolled for under 150 it won't matter what he has learned since england it still won't help much.

    Bowlers win matches but they still need runs to do it.

  • ROBERTBARATHEON on February 11, 2016, 3:36 GMT

    If the pitch turns out to be as green as it is speculated and bowlers of each side find a good deal of purchase, batsmanship may decide the game.What could happen is, bowlers of each side will bowl plenty of wicket taking deliveries and how the batsmen play those balls will eventually determine the scoreline.It is a characteristic feature of green decks to favor the side with more solid batting lineup, a key reason why India won some test matches on seaming tracks in the past.

  • baggygreenmania on February 11, 2016, 2:40 GMT

    These conditions will be so foreign to Hazlewood and his bowling unit. A deck that actually assists the bowler. Since England the Aussies have bowled on backbreaking and morale breaking roads back home. They will relish these Kiwi tracks.

  • baggygreenmania on February 11, 2016, 2:33 GMT

    Like that John. I am an Aussie and agree. He was in fact the series leading wicket taker and most economic bowler after the second ashes test. That was when his troubles began to which he refers in the article. Perhaps the comparisons to McGrath have been a distraction and plenty love shooting down the tall poppies . Having said that the great man himself said Hazlewood is likely to break his world record by the time he retires. He has that much talent.

  • baggygreenmania on February 11, 2016, 2:27 GMT

    Hazlewood is man enough to admit he did make mistakes in England. After all he was just 24, it was his debut Ashes and there was plenty of pressure on him to perform away from home. I am expecting to have a major impact in NZ.

  • Scuderi on February 10, 2016, 23:31 GMT

    Australia has the attack to take 20 wickets, can the batsmen hold up? they need to accept a lower run rate is required in foreign conditions

  • johnthekiwi on February 10, 2016, 16:59 GMT

    In the first three Ashes tests he took 14 wickets for 315 runs and was doing the job. If you had to build a bowler that has a chance to win games for Oz in the UK, NZ and SA and keep Oz in games on SC surfaces he is what you would come up with. Most of the animus I have seen directed towards him comes from Aussies oddly enough. Perhaps it is because they are more bombarded with the McGrath comparisons than the rest of us and are sick of it. Yeah. He isn't McGrath and not many ever have been or will be. Give him 10 years and I'm sure he will grow on people.

  • scorpiyanselva on February 10, 2016, 16:16 GMT

    he words were shown maturity and typical auz style by making their opponent best batsman in bit of pressure

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