In today’s cricket news, learn more about the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the World Test Championship Final, and the Ashes loomed large for Australia this year, following a near-perfect 18 months in Test cricket. Meanwhile, Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of this week’s World Test Championship final against India due to injury, forcing Australia to make a late substitution.
Cummins Announces Line-up Without in-form Australian
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy, World Test Championship Final, and Ashes loomed large for Australia this year after a near-perfect 18 months in Test cricket.
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy was retained by India in fewer than six days after 90 minutes of mayhem in Delhi.
Australia bounced back in Indore and Ahmedabad, but the team’s veterans realized they had blown their last chance to beat India at home.
“We had our backs against the wall and we went 2-0 down in that series and weren’t able to win it after Delhi,” Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey told the ICC this week.
“But from the group’s perspective to be able to bounce back and win in Indore showed a lot of character.
“We walked away from the midpoint (of the series) with a bit of confidence knowing we were good enough in those conditions and there were a few little areas we would have liked to clean up.
The grand final is here, though.
The World Test Championship final, the only ICC event Australia has never won, will be played at The Oval this week. Pat Cummins’ men won’t have to wait long for revenge.
Australia’s slow overrate in the 2020 Boxing Day Test cost them the World Test Championship final. In the 2021 WTC Final, India lost against Kane Williamson’s Black Caps in Southampton’s dreary circumstances, which resembled New Zealand’s summer.
In London, the winner will receive $2.4 million and the runner-up $1.2 million. Both teams are seeking redemption.
“This final has been built up for two years. Cummins told Fox Cricket, “To make it has been a huge achievement to this team.”
You could argue it’s Test cricket’s biggest trophy. You’re competing with all Test nations.
“Playing India in a neutral venue will be fun too.”
How Aussies Qualified
In December 2021, captain and wicketkeeper Tim Paine retired from cricket, kicking off Australia’s World Test Championship cycle.
However, newly appointed captain Pat Cummins guided the hosts to a smashing 4-0 series triumph over England at the SCG, falling one wicket short of a rare Ashes whitewash.
Australia’s first Test trip of Pakistan in 24 years followed Justin Langer’s retirement as head coach in February 2022.
After two frustrating draws in Rawalpindi and Karachi, Usman Khawaja’s bat helped Australia win the inaugural Benaud-Qadir Trophy with a 1-0 series triumph.
Before the Galle Tests, Andrew McDonald was named head coach. The series, played during a widespread political protest, ended 1-1, retaining the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy for Cummins’ team.
Australia came home and won four consecutive Tests against the West Indies and South Africa until the New Year’s encounter against the Proteas ended in a rain-affected tie.
The Australians were comfortably atop the World Test Championship standings, but they needed at least one draw from their four Tests in India to qualify for the final.
After two humiliating losses in Nagpur and Delhi, Australia advanced to the final with a nine-wicket win over India in Indore.
In a welcome change, neither side will enjoy home comforts. Australia and India will play in London at a neutral site for the first time in their 76-year Test history.
India has won two of 14 Tests at The Oval since 1936, while Australia has won just seven of 38 Tests there since 1880.
Compared to other Ashes grounds, the Oval is England’s most spin-friendly deck. India may choose Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin because spin bowlers have collected 33 Test wickets at 28.72 since 2018.
Last month, former Test captain Ricky Ponting told reporters, “I think it will be a bit more similar to an Australian wicket than it will be to an Indian wicket.”
“Normally the wickets that I played on at The Oval have started as really, really good batting wickets and actually have offered a little bit to the spinners as the game’s gone on.”
New South Wales seamer Sean Abbott, who plays for Surrey in the County Championship, has played three first-class matches at The Oval this season, delivering a strong message to his Australian teammates before they traveled to the United Kingdom.
Push back the slips.
We played on a fast pitch last week. Last month, Abbott told cricket.com.au, “The ball was flying through.”
“There was probably more nip in it for slower guys, there was a little bit of swing, but I can assure you there was some pace in the wicket.”
The Oval has been good to Australian vice-captain Steve Smith, who scored his first Test century there in 2013.
India, once cricket’s underdog, has become a Test powerhouse with strong hitters and frightening speed bowlers.
Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are modern greats, Cheteshwar Pujara has terrorized Australia’s bowlers for almost a decade, and former vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has boosted India’s batting.
Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, and Shreyas Iyer are rehabilitating from long-term ailments and will miss the WTC Final.
Australia’s lineup is mostly decided, although Josh Hazlewood’s side soreness forced him to return home early from the Indian Premier League.
Scott Boland, who averages 13.42 in seven Tests, will replace him.
Boland, who played the Dukes ball in the Sheffield Shield from 2016 to 2020, will also be familiar with it.
Boland told cricket.com.au, “It does take a little bit of adjusting, but after one or two sessions you can get a handle on it.
“I’ve spoken to (Cummins) about the ball, how he holds it, and what he’s thinking when it’s moving so far.
He also stated you shouldn’t pursue wickets. If the conditions are good and you don’t get a wicket in one delivery, the ball will still be moving, so you’ll have a chance in your next spell.”
On Tuesday, Cummins said there would be “no surprises” in the XI despite Hazlewood’s replacement, Michael Neser.
Cummins remarked, “We’re big on kind of everyone bowling slightly differently.
“Scott is a seam bowler on a good length, but he just offers something slightly different to Joshy Hazlewood, and Starcy being a left-hander is bit different.
Thus, there is no pecking order. You think about the three men you want to go out and play.”
World Test Championship Final Replacement is Named
On Sunday night, Josh Hazlewood was ruled out of this week’s World Test Championship final against India, forcing Australia to make a late change.
Since leaving the Indian Premier League early, Hazlewood had been struggling with an Achilles and side ailment and was in question for the final.
Michael Neser will replace Hazlewood in Australia’s 15-man roster for the Test and might play if selectors choose him over Scott Boland.
Hazlewood was “very, very close” to playing, according to Cricket Australia’s chair of selectors George Bailey.
The Australian fast bowler will now focus on being available for June 16’s first Ashes Test.
Bailey added, “Josh was very, very close to being given the green light but we are cognisant that our upcoming schedule means this is not a one-off Test match of us.
“Michael’s County form has been strong and knowing that he was going to be close by allowed him to keep playing and allowed us to call on him. Fast bowlers benefit from his presence.
Josh will have perfect preparation for Edgbaston. Our fast bowlers will be needed for six Test matches in seven weeks.”
Last week in London, Hazlewood told reporters his fitness was “pretty good” after bowling at near-full velocity.
Hazlewood said, “It is just a matter of ticking off every session from here until that date (June 7).
“We will probably have anywhere from three to four more sessions – bat versus ball and then a couple of longer days in the nets as well, or centre wicket down in London – so it is just ticking off those last few boxes and pulling up well from every session.
Today’s pace was close. To loosen up and get more out of today’s session, I came down for a bowl yesterday.
“After a long few travel days, the first one always gets the cobwebs out and stretches out and does some run-throughs to get the blood flowing.
“It is always good to get the first one out of the way and we will steam in when we get to London.”
Summary of Today’s Cricket Sports News
Overall, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the World Test Championship Final, and the Ashes all loomed large for Australia this year after they had a nearly faultless 18 months in Test cricket. The difference between a good squad and a great team may be whether or not they were able to bring home the World Test Championship mace and the Ashes urn from England. In the last eight years, Australia has only won one Test series outside of Oceania. The unflattering label of “home-track bully” will be permanently thrown around if Cummins and his teammates don’t bring home the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the WTC mace, or the Ashes urn in August.
Finally, due to Josh Hazlewood’s injury on Sunday night, Australia had to make a last-minute change for this week’s World Test Championship final against India. Hazlewood has been replaced in Australia’s 15-man Test squad by Michael Neser, and the all-rounder has a chance to make the final XI if the selectors choose to play him instead of Scott Boland.