Josh Hazlewood, the Australian seamer, will miss the highly anticipated World Test Championship Final against India due to injury. Despite participating in training sessions and bowling at full capacity, Hazlewood is managing a left Achilles issue in addition to a recent side injury he sustained during his IPL stint. With the Ashes series immediately following the WTC Final, a cautious approach has been taken to ensure Hazlewood’s long-term availability.
George Bailey, Chair of Selectors, acknowledged that Hazlewood was on the verge of being cleared for the match. However, considering Australia’s packed schedule, which includes six Test matches in just over seven weeks, it was decided that Hazlewood’s recovery and preparation for the Ashes series were of utmost importance.
To compensate for Hazlewood’s absence, the Australian team has included 33-year-old fast bowler Michael Neser in the squad. Neser made his Test debut during the home Ashes series in 2021-22 but has only played one additional Test match with a 12-month gap in between. Although it is unlikely that Neser will feature in the WTC Final, Scott Boland is considered the frontrunner to secure a place in the Australian playing XI.
Bailey praised Neser’s strong form in county cricket and highlighted his availability as a valuable asset for the fast bowling unit. Having Neser nearby and actively playing allowed the team to call upon him as a reinforcement. Bailey expressed confidence in the depth of their fast bowling resources, acknowledging Neser as a significant strength within the group.