Josh Hazlewood is hoping he can regain his place in the Australian bowling attack ahead of the third and final Test against South Africa.
With Australia already on a winning streak after an impressive loss at the MCG, Pat Cummins’ team heads to Sydney in search of a clean score.
Injuries to Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc saw Ashton Agar and Matt Renshaw return to the red ball, while Scott Boland impressed in the series, but Hazlewood is hoping he can regain his form when he comes back from injury.
Having missed most of the Ashes home series just over a year ago, Hazlewood has only played two Tests in 2022, although the pacemaker believes he still holds a valuable position in the hierarchy.
“I still feel like it’s in place,” Hazlewood told reporters. “It’s always good to have pressure. It’s great to have options that keep you on your toes.
“[Injuries have been] frustrating, definitely. I don’t think I was very injured. It just happens at the wrong time of year.
“The test matches are so close together now. Apart from that, [for] for the rest of the 24 months I was fit and shooting. So it’s frustrating when you think about it that way.”
The absence of Green and the Old Man will likely open the door for Hazlewood to perform, although he will again face increased competition when the two return.
But the focus will be on securing a whitewash against the Proteas in the SCG, where Australia have only lost one of their last 21 Tests.
Australia won their last three Men’s Tests against South Africa at home, the last and only time they recorded an extended winning run against the Proteas in such matches was eight matches between February 1911 and December 1952.
Meanwhile, South Africa risk losing a fifth test in a row, matching the difficult streak they underwent between February and October 2019.
Khawaja goes to happy hunting grounds
While his teammates put up some great results against the Proteas, Usman Khawaja struggled to form throughout the series with a total of 14 runs over three rounds.
But it goes to a place with rich choices. Just 33 away from 4,000 in international red ball cricket, his SCG Test average of 98.3 is the third best player at the stadium behind Wally Hammond and Sachin Tendulkar.
Nortje wants to frustrate his enemies again
It has been a humbling experience for South Africa with stick and ball but Anrich Nortje hopes to at least continue to be a thorn in the side of the opposition in 2023.
Batsmen played and missed 19% of the balls he threw in the 2022 Tests, the highest rate of any player.