Harris in for Hazlewood: Warne
Josh Hazlewood will make way for Ryan Harris in the First Ashes Test despite an outstanding tour of the Wests Indies, according to Australian spin great Shane Warne.
“Ryan Harris will definitely come in,” Warne said, speaking at a William Hill golf event at Sandhurst in Melbourne.
“Hazlewood has bowled beautifully and is a perfect new ball bowler for English conditions but for me Ryan Harris is one of the greatest fast bowlers Australia have had.
“[England have] got a few budgies against Mitchell Johnson and [Mitchell] Starc is probably the best fast bowler in the world so Hazlewood might be unlucky to miss out.”
Warne is pleased to have watched Starc’s improvement after labelling him “soft” at the start of the last Australian summer.
“I saw the way Mitchell Starc could bowl and I saw him play at the Gabba and thought what is this bloke doing,” Warne said at the William Hill event.
“He was being soft. He is better than that.
“It was constructive criticism. I’m always straight up. That’s what I saw. If it helped, that’s great.”
While Warne heaped plenty of praise on the Australian team, he found a number of weaknesses in the English side including Alastair Cook’s captaincy and the lack of a genuine spin weapon.
“It’s an opportunity for Australia to expose Alastair Cook’s deficiencies in his captaincy,” Warne said at the William Hill golf day.
“If Michael Clarke can put the foot on the throat and target Cook early, it will be nice to see that disparity between the captains.
“I’m not sure what Moeen Ali’s role is either. He’s a batsman. They’re picking him at number eight and using him as the number one spinner.
“He hasn’t done that well so far.
“He is a batsman who bowls a bit of part time [off-spin].”
Warne is bitterly disappointed that good friend and long-time nemesis of the Australian side Kevin Pietersen will most likely miss out on selection for England.
“If you look at the England team and put Kevin Pietersen there, it looks a better team straight away,” William Hill ambassador Warne said from Sandhurst.
“It’s disappointing for all fans of cricket that Kevin Pietersen is not playing.
“But I can’t see him getting back in unless they get absolutely thrashed in the first two Tests and nobody is getting any runs.
“I hope he is part of the Ashes series. He is one of the most destructive players to play the game during my time.
“The Aussies will be happy he is not playing.”
Asked for a tip on the series, Warne was confident the Ashes would return to Australia.
“Australia will win,” Warne said.
“It will be a close series. I don’t think it will be a one-sided series.
“It will all come down to the conditions. If they prepare seeming tracks, even though we’ve got good bowlers, it’s going to be quite difficult.”
For vision or audio off the interview with Shane Warne at the William Hill Golf event held at Sandhurst Golf Club in Melbourne, please contact Tim Ashworth