Josh Hazlewood has been rested after failing to overcome a virus. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Josh Hazlewood has been rested after failing to overcome a virus. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Middle order key to sparking Aussie form reversal

CRICKET: Aussie opener Aaron Finch says it's time to stop talking and start delivering following a horror year of one-day results.

Australia must overcome adversity at the Gabba on Friday if they are to bounce back and beat England in the second one-day international.

Pace bowling spearhead Josh Hazelwood - Australia's top ranked ODI bowler - was sent home after failing to overcome a virus while in-form big bash wicketkeeper Alex Carey was called into the squad as cover for Tim Paine (gastro).

With leading Ashes wicket-taker Pat Cummins rested, Australia was already lacking one of its gun bowlers and Hazlewood's scratching is another blow to their chances of levelling the five-match series.

Josh Hazlewood has been rested after failing to overcome a virus. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Josh Hazlewood has been rested after failing to overcome a virus. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Last Sunday's five-wicket loss to England at the MCG was Australia's eighth defeat in its past nine completed ODI matches.

Four of those losses were during a challenging five-match series in India last year while the other four were spread across New Zealand and the ICC Champions Trophy in England.

Finch, who struck 107 in the first ODI, said Australia was aware of its recent 50-over struggles and the time had come to turn it around.

"We've talked about it a lot in terms of that middle order batting," he said.

"When we were having quite a bit of success, we had a guy, one of the top four, going on and getting a really big hundred.

"When you've got guys constantly changing in the side, it can be hard to get a real partnership, especially with guys you haven't batted with a hell of a lot.

"It's time to just do it a bit more often. That's one spot Steve (Smith, captain) and Darren (Lehmann, coach) have both identified quite critically in the past, and rightfully so.

"We know that's something we have to improve and change. It's up to the individual to make sure you're still sticking true to your own game plan and making sure that when the game is there to be taken on you don't second guess yourself."

Complicating Australia's recent struggles is the possibility of two team changes from the first match of the series.

Jhye Richardson will make his ODI debut at the Gabba.
Jhye Richardson will make his ODI debut at the Gabba.

Perth quick Jhye Richardson will make his ODI debut and could possibly be joined by Carey, who whacked a brilliant 100 from just 56 balls for the Adelaide Strikers on Wednesday.

Finch admitted the instability within the Australian camp presented a challenge but Richardson and Carey were outstanding prospects.

"Any time your first choice guys are unavailable or crook (is not ideal)," he said.

"It does cause a little bit of angst among the group. It causes separation because guys don't want to hang around each other anymore in case they are spreading (illness) on.

"The guys that are there to come in and potentially take their spot if they need are in great form if they need.

"Alex Carey just got a beautiful hundred and has taken his game to another level and shown a lot of promise over the last couple of years in Shield cricket. The way he put his hand up and has continued to do so for such a young guy is really impressive.

"We've seen (Richardson) in the Big Bash. He bowls fast, he's aggressive, can swing the ball up front."

The series moves to Sydney for the third match on Sunday.


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