Australia won the toss during the second Ashes Test at Lord’s and chose to bowl first. Kicking off their game, it was not long before Josh Hazlewood dismissed an uncertain Jason Roy when he got nicked behind trying a tentative shot against the Australian’s deadly out-swinger delivery.
England team’s captain Joe Root had been early in with a great responsibility to bear for his members. But Australia’s Hazlewood continued to unleash his out-swingers at the batsman, hitting the deck and keeping the skipper on edge as he was forced to move forward and meet the deliveries. Root had reluctantly struck a few balls; others just zoomed across the outside edge. It was clear to see the Aussie’s strategy as he succeeded to expose some crucial loopholes and weak links in the English batsman’s defensive approach.
The ball had been pitched within the ground’s ‘corridor of uncertainty’ as a bait to trap the right-hander with his false strokes when he continued to move away from his stumps. The head landed dangerously close above the right shoulder, with a rising panic at the possibility of a catch at the slip cordon’s side.
The defining moment for Australia came in soon. Hazlewood unyielding in-swinger terminated Root’s wavering effort at the pitch, catching him plumb on shuffle as he struggled to keep up. Root walked off in extreme despair at his defeat, having reached a breaking point with the invincible bowling.
This was not the first time that an unsuspecting batsman got trapped by such a strategy, enduring a dismissal as a result. Hazlewood’s expertise in swing bowling was reflected in his performance as he came back stronger and stronger for each delivery to disarm the batsman: he charged his spells at perfect lengths and lines, hovered at the off-stump when he captured the batter with his deceitful in-swinger, and exposed the vulnerability of England team’s most accomplished batsman.
Hazlewood’s smooth run-up to the ground’s bowling crease and his confident agility to swing both ways are justifiably comparable to the exemplary former cricketer Glenn McGrath. Hazlewood also shows superior control and maturity in between all the cynical arguments that question his speed during unfavourable conditions.
Cricket experts often reinforce how important it is to claim 20 wickets in the game’s longest version; good batting is just half of the job. Steve Smith has stolen all the thunder with his magnificent batting that has left the hosts shaken and crushed. Hazlewood has clearly made an equally important contribution.
He has unnerved the opponents with his bowling, striking more wickets than ever. With 18 wickets out at his deliveries during these Ashes series, Australia’s seam bowler has become the core reason for the team to retain the urn. His performances deserve a standing ovation.
Hazlewood does not often dominate the cricket headlines. You will rarely find him intimidate the batsmen with his lethal skills, which proves that he does his part silently and does it well when it counts most.