Josh Hazlewood is always on the hunt for English wickets, but prizes two of them high above the rest.
Among the seven wickets he has taken so far in Australia’s victories in the first two Ashes Tests, Joe Root features twice and Alastair Cook once.
The latter, England’s all-time leading runscorer, has mustered only 62 in four attempts on this tour, but Hazlewood remains wary of the threat posed by the former captain.
Asked if that could mean Cook is storing up runs for his 150th Test in Perth this week, or maybe later in the series, Hazlewood said: “Absolutely. We always talk about the key players, and he’s a great of England cricket, so that next big knock is always just around the corner.
“He’s a key player and has been for a long time. But the more often we can bowl our best ball to him, keep him down (the better).”
It is very much a case of so far so good for Australia, with off-spinner Nathan Lyon troubling Cook too.
“He hasn’t scored too many runs as yet, and Nathan’s had some good success as well,” added Hazlewood.
“Our plans won’t change to him.”
Despite two half-centuries, Australia have also been able to keep captain Root quiet – and Hazlewood knows they must keep doing so.
“I think all the bowlers want that wicket.
“Joe is obviously the key – he can hold the innings together and score runs pretty freely when he gets some poor bowling his way – so everyone has to be ready when he comes in and stop that quick 20 or 30 runs early.”
England are on course at present to add a second successive whitewash defeat here to their miserable tour of 2013/14.
Back then, the brilliant Mitchell Johnson was chief architect of their downfall, and despite his retirement from international cricket, the left-armer may yet have an impact this time as an adviser to the current crop of Australia pace bowlers.
Hazlewood reports the tips he received from Johnson in preparation for the WACA this week were straightforward and – for England, perhaps – maybe a little ominous.
“Bowl fast, and keep bowling short … pretty simple method from Johnno!” he said.
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