‘I’m getting better and better’: Hazlewood's Ashes warning
JOSH Hazlewood is in the box seat for a recall if selectors rejig Australia's attack for the second Test, having helped wipe out Worcestershire's top six while producing his best spell since suffering a back injury in January.
Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, both overlooked for Australia's series opener against England, snared five of the first six wickets to fall as the hosts crashed to 8-75 in Worcester on Thursday.
Worcestershire's wagging tail and a no-ball, which cost Starc a wicket, combined to frustrate Australia until the locals declared at 9-201 on day two of the Ashes tour game.
Hazlewood was the pick of Australia's bowlers, grabbing a tidy haul of 3-34 from 15 overs.
"The rhythm felt really good last night and this morning, you could definitely say that," Hazlewood said, when asked if it was the best he'd bowled on tour.
"Obviously coming back from a pretty serious back injury, back-to-back stress fractures, it can take a while to get back into the swing of things.
"I feel like I'm getting better and better with each bowl ... if I keep improving and keep putting my hand up every time, that's all you can do."
The final day of the three-day contest may be washed out if predicted rain hits Worcester on Friday, which would leave Marcus Harris unbeaten on 62.
Harris outgunned Cameron Bancroft in Australia's second innings, with the latter managing seven from 40 balls as the visitors reached 1-92 at stumps to take a 157-run lead.
Bancroft is fully expected to partner David Warner at the top of the order in the second Ashes Test, which starts next Wednesday.
The major point of intrigue about Australia's XI at Lord's will be their attack, with the pitch to dictate whether James Pattinson or Peter Siddle is omitted from the side that won at Edgbaston.
Last week, Hazlewood was pipped in a one-on-one battle with Peter Siddle for the final spot.
"I'd love an opportunity. I've only played one Test at Lord's but I thought I got used to the slope pretty quickly and felt pretty comfortable there," Hazlewood said.
"It's pretty stiff competition at the moment.
"Sidds has obviously been playing a lot of (county) cricket and the other two guys (Pattinson and Pat Cummins) just pick themselves."
Alex Milton top-scored for Worcestershire with 74, eventually falling when Starc claimed a low catch in the deep to hand Marnus Labuschagne a second wicket.
Starc finished with figures of 2-56 from 15.5 overs.
"The pace is still there," Hazlewood said of Starc.
"He's a genuine wicket-taker all the time and always poses a threat."
Starc struck the helmet of No.10 batsman Charlie Morris and had a stump cartwheeling when Morris was on 12.
But there was no celebration, Starc trudged back to his mark after overstepping. Morris went on to score a career-best 53 not out, sharing a 88-run stand with Milton.