Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood insisted that it had been a case of “onwards and upwards” after he starred during a 19-run convert world champions England in the first one-day international at Old Trafford on Friday.
Hazlewood took 3 wickets for 26 from his spell that stifled England’s pursuit of a target of 295 from the outset, removing opener Jason Roy and Test skipper Joe Root for single-figure scores because the hosts limped to 22-2 off the first 10 overs.
The 50-over match was Australia’s first against England since a crushing eight-wicket defeat by their arch-rivals in the semi-finals of last year’s World Cup at Edgbaston.
Hazlewood was unable to play that match due to controversial omission from the World Cup squad, with the selectors instead wanting him to regain full fitness following a back injury for the coming Test series in England, where Australia retained the Ashes in a 2-2 draw.
Hazlewood was asked if the way he bowled on Friday made his World Cup absence all the more painful, Hazlewood replied: “Nah it’s onwards and upwards. That’s a long time ago now, so always looking forward.”
The Aussie bowler was close to making it unplayable during a stunning opening spell of two wickets for five runs in six overs.
“England top order is in the best form in the world during the last four years, so I guess going against them is a good measure of where you’re at,” Hazlewood shared after Australia’s third win in 14 ODIs against their oldest foe.
“To keep them down to 20-odd for two in the first 10 was great.”
Meanwhile, England captain Eoin Morgan said Hazlewood had enjoyed a “day out” after his side went 1-0 down during a three-match series that continues Sunday.
“The Australians were outstanding, incredibly accurate, and that they got the ball moving,” he said. “It rarely happens to us.”
‘Keeping Stokesy’s chair warm’
Sam Billing’s resisting effort kept England’s hopes alive in the game with 118, maiden century after sharing a century partnership with Jonny Bairstow (84) following the hosts’ collapse to 57-4.
Billings was the sole member of England’s XI on Friday not involved in the World Cup squad, together with his inclusion owing much to star all-rounder Ben Stokes still being on leave with his ill father in New Zealand.
Billings, reflecting on his “mixed feelings” at making 100 in a losing cause, told Sky Sports he was keen to “keep putting scores on the board” after what was just 19th appearance in a five-year England career.
The 29-year-old Kent batsman added, however: “I don’t think it matters how many runs I get, I do know I’m only keeping Stokesy’s chair warm for him.”
Morgan appreciated that Billings batted brilliantly on the back of “sporadic” chances caused by the very fact he, as well as Jos Buttler and Stokes, had often been at No 6 instead.
“But today he (Billings) really stood out in a spot that is really difficult to bat, where you can be thrown in at all different circumstances,” said Morgan.