The last time West Tamworth played Old Boys they were left with Hazlewood-lash, after the allrounder went berserk at Riverside 1 in assembling a ruthless 68-ball 125 that included 11 fours and eight sixes.
The two sides meet again in a one-dayer at No.1 Oval on Saturday.
Given the blowtorch job Hazlewood gave West Tamworth in their last clash, it is understandable Wests paceman Brock Ridgewell paused when asked if he thought first-placed Old Boys were suddenly vulnerable after a loss to South Tamworth last round, their second loss of the season, and then said: “Not really. They’re always a quality side, Old Boys … [and] they’re going to have Aaron Hazlewood back this week, and that’s a big plus. With him in the side, they’re a totally different team.”
Hazlewood also snared three wickets in that round seven win over second-placed Wests.
He has played only three first-grade matches this season, and has played once since round seven – smashing a 51-ball 87 against City United at Riverside 1 that included 12 fours and four sixes.
Ridgewell said: “He’s going to be a real key wicket tomorrow [Saturday] … He’s a quality player and one of the toughest wickets to get in town.
“If you give him multiple chances he can take the game away from you really quickly. He scores at a very good strike rate.”
Hazlewood and and his Old Boys teammates will face a West Tamworth side who have learned a lot about themselves the past two rounds.
A shock and heavy loss to a then-winless Bective East before Christmas was followed by a confident defeat of North Tamworth last Saturday.
Ridgewell said the Bective loss was a “reality check that brought us back to earth – where we stand in the competition, how we have to perform every week to win games no matter who it is against”.