Australia have issued an update on the fitness of key pacer Josh Hazlewood ahead of a busy schedule of cricket that consists of the ICC World Test Championship final against India and five Ashes Tests.
Hazlewood has been battling injury issues for a prolonged period now, not playing a single Test in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India. Hazlewood's planned return to cricket during the ongoing IPL was also delayed, with the pacer only featuring in his first match after the halfway point of the tournament.
The experienced quick has had a minimal impact in the IPL, only featuring in three matches and bowling nine overs. He last featured for Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 9 and flew back home early to Australia before their last match after reporting side soreness.
This has raised concerns about his fitness ahead of a blockbuster schedule of Test cricket for Australia, with Pat Cummins' side playing the World Test Championship final against India and five Ashes Tests against England in June and July. Hazlewood has been named in the squad for the World Test Championship final as well as the first two Ashes Tests.
In a major relief for the pacer, scans have revealed no damage and he has now returned to bowling as the Australian squad prepares to depart for the UK.
Cricket Australia are confident that Hazlewood will be fit and firing for the Test matches ahead, ready to aide skipper Cummins and Mitchell Starc in the pace trio.
A CA spokesperson giving an update on Hazlewood stated, as quoted by ESPN Cricinfo, "Josh Hazlewood returned home from the IPL last weekend after experiencing minor side soreness after the completion of his most recent IPL match.
"After a brief and precautionary rest period, Hazlewood returned to high-intensity bowling last week and will continue to increase his bowling workloads in preparation for the WTC and Ashes series. Hazlewood is considered fit and available for the WTC and Ashes Series."
The World Test Championship between Australia and India will be played at The Oval in London between June 7-11, with Cummins' side immediately embarking on an Ashes campaign scheduled to be held between June 16 and July 31.