Australia coach Justin Langer has defended the team's decision to overlook ICC Men's Cricket World Cup-winner Josh Hazlewood for their title defence at the 2019 edition that begins on 30 May.
Hazlewood was ignored twice, first when Australia named their 15-man World Cup contingent, and then when Jhye Richardson picked up an injury and the selectors called up Kane Richardson as a replacement, leaving Hazlewood to focus on being fit for the Ashes series later in the summer.
Hazlewood lifted the World Cup with Australia in 2015, and was No.1 in the MRF Tyres ICC One-Day International Bowling Rankings as recently as 2017. But he has spent the last six months out of the one-day side, and over four months out of international cricket due to a back injury.
Hazlewood called the snub "bitterly disappointing", but Langer said a recall for the flagship tournament could not be justified, given his recent lack of white-ball cricket.
"He just hasn't been playing any [T20 and one-day] cricket," Langer said. "He's come off a second stress fracture in his back, and while he's just starting to get up and running in the nets now, I think he's played six white-ball games in the last 18 months.
"We know he's a great bowler. He's a brilliant bowler, but it was just such bad timing for him. He's a terrific bloke, he's been vice-captain of the team. He's a brilliant bowler ... his numbers over the last four years have been good. But over the last 18 months, he just hasn't played enough.
"I'm sure he's disappointed. There's a few guys who are disappointed not to be in the squad. Hopefully, through the Australia A series, he can start playing cricket again. We can't wait to welcome him back."
Australia's @cricketworldcup winning captain in 1999, Steve Waugh, believes that the return of Steve Smith and David Warner is an ominous sign for their opponents.— ICC (@ICC) May 20, 2019
FULL STORY ⬇️ https://t.co/0LUwHcmIkv pic.twitter.com/y6QeOUMkGP
Australia head to England in good form, having whitewashed Pakistan 5-0 in the United Arab Emirates, and with confidence high following the returns of senior batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner. And Langer looked forward to testing his side's progress against "red-hot favourites" England on 25 May, one of two warm-up games for Australia before their campaign begins against Afghanistan in Bristol on 1 June.
"They’re playing brilliant cricket, aren’t they?" Langer said of England. "They’re obviously the red-hot favourites for the tournament, they’re playing here in their home country, they’re playing brilliantly, they deserve to be the No.1 team in the world.
"So we’re looking forward to playing them. There’s always good rivalry between us, and it’s going to be nice for us to see how we’re against the best team in the world."
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!