A tall, simple action that produces speeds upwards of 140km/h and late swing away from the right-handers is the same model that was engineered as a schoolboy, according to Josh Hazlewood’s former coach John Muller.
“What impressed me is that he listened carefully and I said to him take it nice and easy when you run in, keep your arm by your side and don’t throw your arm around,” recalled Muller on his first memories of the young Oxley High student.
“He listened really attentively and the action I see today is not that much different. I’m very proud he’s held onto that action.
“I have always maintained when a bowler releases the ball in a truly upright position then he can follow through, and he is a great example, as is Ryan Harris.
“It hasn’t changed from what I taught him and it’s very pleasing to see.”
Muller, a former left-arm spin bowler who played against the 1960 West Indies touring party, taught at the Ken Falkenmire Academy in Tamworth where Hazlewood learned not only the skills of the game but also the etiquette on the field.
Standing nearly two-metres tall, Hazlewood can generate steepling bounce and express speeds, a talent that presented itself early to Muller’s delight.
“He had a nice pace for his age. We concentrated on that and accuracy. With that action, it really helps you maintain a good length.
“He certainly had a bit of pace and did very well here in the local competition in Tamworth.”
Those prodigious physical gifts coupled with his quiet, respectful temperament earned him a NSW rookie contract while he was still in Year 12, despite not having played a single game in Sydney grade cricket.
At 17, Hazlewood became the youngest fast bowler to represent NSW when he took the new ball for the Blues against New Zealand in a tour match at the SCG, claiming 2-53 in his first innings including the wicket of future Black Caps captain Ross Taylor.
With first-class experience under his belt, the spearhead outclassed his opponents for Australia in the 2010 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, taking out man of the match honours in the final with four wickets to finish with 13 for the tournament.
Muller has a mantra he tells all cricketers that come through the academy: “The harder you work the luckier you get.” Yesterday Josh Hazlewood’s hard work was rewarded with a Baggy Green cap and two wickets.
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