On one hand, how do they leave out Boland? He is a wicket-taking machine who five times in five Tests has taken multiple scalps in an over, the most recent on the helter-skelter second day at the Gabba.
But then there’s Hazlewood, a world-class fast bowler with an outstanding record, albeit one whose Test career has stuttered over the last two years due to injury and conditions-based selection. Perhaps relevant will be Hazlewood’s first-class record at the MCG, where he averages 35.69, which is significantly higher than his career mark. Boland averages 24.35 at the venue.
This time there is not another potential fall guy in the XI to accommodate both Boland and Hazlewood assuming everyone else is fit.
“He was on the radar for the MCG last year because of exactly what we’ve seen him do,” Bailey said. “He bashes a length, I think his ability to take multiple wickets in the same over speaks to how consistent he is and the questions he asks of the batter right from ball one. He’s going fantastically. [Josh will] keep building and clearly we’ve got a decision to make. I’m really glad that it is a tough decision to make.”
When Hazlewood spoke on Sunday, he admitted it had been a frustrating period of his Test career and conceded being a three-format bowler, having established himself as one of the leading T20 performers, had brought challenges. However, although it is the second summer in a row where Hazlewood has suffered a side injury it has been described as a different problem and the medical teams are not concerned about a pattern emerging.
“Let’s be honest, fast bowlers face injury more than any other type of cricketer,” Bailey said. “So they’re constantly under pressure with it. It’s a challenge trying to get [the balance] right. The flip side of that is I think Josh giving himself the opportunity through the IPL has seen him become the T20 bowler [he is]. He’s just a phenomenal bowler. It’s hard work.”
“It’s very important to have two Victorian selectors on the panel,” Bailey joked. “Tony Dodemaide and Andrew McDonald will be in charge of that.”