Ugly ‘coincidence’ exposes Aussie graveyard

Australia’s dominant performance with the ball has overshadowed the injury of Josh Hazlewood that has seen the quick out of the first Test against New Zealand and in massive doubt for the remainder of the series.

Australia bowled New Zealand out for 166 on the back of another Mitchell Starc pink-ball masterclass but the side have decided to bat once again.

Down a bowler and in the intense Perth heat, Australia will build on their 250-run first innings lead.

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Australia started perfectly in the New Zealand innings with Starc and Hazlewood claiming two wickets in the opening two overs.

Starc nabbed the dangerous Tom Latham for a second-ball duck before Hazlewood struck with the wicket of Jeet Raval for one.

But the joy didn’t last long with Hazlewood able to bowl just eight balls before limping off the ground with a suspected left hamstring injury.

Josh Hazlewood is back on the injury list.Source:AAP

While it seemed to be mild as Hazlewood didn’t seem encumbered as he left the field, it had the commentators scrambling for an explanation.

“I caught an interview with Neil Wagner and he talked about the outsides being hard with this particular playing surface, the outfield being so hard,” Ian Smith said on Fox Cricket.

“I’m not being a stirrer by an stretch of the imagination, I’m just assuming it’s a coincidence that two quick bowlers have broken down with muscle injuries running in. If there’s anything in that, probably not.”

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There was also a question as to whether it could have been from the last bowling innings after Australia enforced the follow on against Pakistan.

It was 176 consecutive overs, and Hazlewood bowled the most (23) of the pacemen in 2nd innings #AusvNZ

Cricket Australia later confirmed it was a left hamstring strain and Hazlewood was left “shattered” in the dressing rooms. He had scans later in the day and is expected to miss the Boxing Day Test although no announcement has been made as of yet.

But the Optus Stadium surface has been wreaking havoc throughout the AFL season and is now claiming victims in the cricket season.

The West Coast Eagles lost 10 players to ankle injuries in 2019 with SEN’s David King labelling the ground “Syndesmosis Stadium”.

Starc, speaking to SEN’s Test Cricket denied there being any issues.

“It is interesting hearing that. I think hearing from the footy side there’s been a few soft tissue injuries over the couple of years here as well,” Starc said.

“The ground actually feels alright. I think in the T20 earlier in the summer it was quite damp so I think they might have put a fair bit of moisture into it so it doesn’t feel too bad running in on it.

“I think the surface is really nice to run in on.”

Mitchell Starc consoles Josh Hazlewood.Source:AAP

Similarly, WACA CEO Christina Matthews said no complaints had been raised.

“I don’t think the injuries to the pace bowlers are anything to do with the grounds and that certainly hasn’t been conveyed. Usually you hear a murmur that’s the case, but I’ve heard nothing,” she told SEN Test Cricket.

“I spoke to Justin (Langer) this morning and he didn’t indicate anything. He’s been nothing but complimentary about the surface.”

It comes after former England skipper Michael Vaughan called for an injury substitute following Ferguson’s injury on the opening day.

I reckon Test cricket needs an injury replacement rule … Independent doctor on site .. He accesses the player ie like Ferguson now In Perth .. if he deems the injury to be real .. a replacement can come in .. #AUSvNZ @FoxCricket .. What do you all reckon ??

He reiterated his plan after Hazlewood’s injury.

“I think Test cricket has to look into it, I just want the best product out there playing,” he said in Fox Cricket commentary.

“I’d have an independent doctor on the ground, he assesses the player and if it’s like Lockie Ferguson and he has a rip in his calf, why wouldn’t you give him a replacement player? Hazlewood exactly the same.

“The grey area is if a player comes into a game with an injury.”

Should Test cricket have a replacement player for injured stars?Source:AAP

“Or probably later in the game when bowlers are fatiguing and not bowling that well then you get a fresh bowler, that’s the only negative side of it,” Mark Waugh added.

Vaughan reiterated the independent doctor was the key.

“I just think it’d be sensible if you have clear and obvious injuries that the replacement would be the best product for Test match cricket,” Vaughan finished.

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