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Hazlewood to step up Ashes preparation

Australia seamer Josh Hazlewood is expected play for his State side in a four-day match this week as he steps his preparation for the first Ashes Test against England.

Hazlewood returned to action in club cricket last weekend after being out with a side strain he picked up in the Test series against Bangladesh in August.

The 26-year-old will now play for New South Wales (NSW) against Western Australia in a four-day Sheffield Shield clash in Sydney starting on Saturday.

Hazlewood will be joined in the NSW attack by fellow Australia pacers, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, as well as Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon.

If he gets through the Western Australia game unscathed, Hazlewood will play for NSW in their next Shield match against Queensland from 13 November, which would give him two first-class matches under the belt before the Ashes gets underway on the 23rd of this month.

Australia physio David Beakley said of Hazlewood: “Until he suffered the side strain, ultimately we wanted him playing the first Shield game like the other boys.

“He hasn’t played that match but he played Premier (cricket last weekend), is expected to play this week.

“If he still gets a couple of Shield games in it’s pretty good preparation.”

Cummins and Starc, who played for New South Wales in their opening Shield clash last week, are not expected to play the third game as they will be rested before the first Ashes Test.