Australia coach Justin Langer has defended the decision to leave Josh Hazlewood out of the World Cup squad, saying the paceman lacked match fitness as he recovers from a back injury.
Hazlewood, who partnered left-arm quicks Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson during Australia’s 2015 World Cup triumph, expressed his frustration last week at first missing out on a place in the initial squad for England and then being overlooked as Jhye Richardson’s replacement.
“He just hasn’t been playing any cricket,” Langer said in England of the 28-year-old Hazlewood, who has claimed 72 wickets in 44 ODI matches.
“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 – that’s T20 and one-day cricket.
“We know he’s a great bowler. He’s a brilliant bowler, but it was just such bad timing for him” Langer added.
Australia play their World Cup opener against Pakistan in Bristol on June 1. The tournament starts on May 30.