Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood has piled more pressure on England’s beleaguered bowling attack ahead of the Boxing Day Ashes Test, telling them they are not doing a good enough job with the bat either. Australia have already regained Cricket’s most famous trophy after they took a 3-0 lead in the five-match series with an innings and 41-run victory in Perth last week.
England’s bowlers, particularly James Anderson and Stuart Broad, have struggled on the tour, with pitches and conditions rarely offering them the swing and seam movement they extract at home. They have also been down on pace.
The fourth Test starts at the Melbourne Cricket Ground today and Hazlewood underlined his side’s mentality of wanting to sweep the series with a barbed shot at England’s lower order.
“We know if we get them four or five down then we can really go through that bottom half pretty quickly,” Hazlewood told reporters.
“On any wicket. We don’t really need much in the wicket to take those last six wickets. It’s about grinding it out, getting those first four or five.
“That’s been one of the big differences, our middle to lower order has wagged a fair bit this summer.”
Australia’s pace trio of Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins have dished out a short-pitched barrage against England’s tail, which has paid dividends and his observations are far from hyperbole.
In the four innings Australia’s lower order have had to bat this series, their last five wickets have added 100 or more runs three times.
They are averaging almost 142 runs per innings and on two occasions captain Steve Smith has had the luxury of declaring. England’s tail by contrast have added more than 100 runs just once in six innings. On average their final five wickets are contributing just another 72 runs to the team’s score.
The tourists, however, will have some respite in Melbourne with Starc ruled out of the match with a heel injury.
The 26-year-old Hazlewood also added the MCG pitch would probably be flat and offer little assistance to either side’s bowlers.
“It hasn’t been great the last couple of years for quicks,” he said. “It’s a very flat wicket, I’d say it’s the flattest in Australia.
“It’s quite evenly paced, there’s no real sideways movement, no real swing and it doesn’t spin much.
“You just have to be patient as a bowler and as a bowling group to build that pressure and get your wickets that way.”