"I don’t know why he’s playing IPL": Michael Clarke questions RCB star's commitment to Australian cricket team

The former Australian captain took an aim at this contemporary Australian seamer for prioritising IPL for national duty ahead of the Ashes. 
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Michael Clarke reignited the debate on modern-day cricketers' playing preferences between national duty and the IPL ahead of the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) versus India which acts as a precursor to the Ashes 2023, both starting in June.  

The former Australia captain pointed out how country's premier Test match seamer Josh Hazlewood continues to ply his trade in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), with the traditional rivalry against India and England set to resume in just over a month. 

Before the marquee five-match Test series for the urn starting on June 16, Australia will be taking on India in the WTC final 2021-23 from June 7 at The Oval. As part of preparations for the strenuous English summer, multiple Australian players have decided to either skip the IPL 2023 to recharge their batteries or sign County Championship deals to get accustomed to the conditions early before the opening Test. 

Notably, Josh Hazlewood isn't one of them. The tall right-arm seamer, who remains an integral part of the Test set-up, has just recovered from an Achilles injury, which has plagued his wings over the past three seasons. 

The cricketer missed the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India in February-March but opted not to fly back home or reserve his energies for first-class cricket in UK prior to the WTC final and the Ashes. He instead completed his rehab at the sidelines of IPL 2023 for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and made an impressive return on Monday (May 1) in the win over Lucknow Super Giants (LSG). 

Clarke questions Hazlewood's Ashes commitment amidst IPL duty 

While Hazlewood made his comeback count with an encouraging three-over spell of 2/15 in RCB's important triumph, he would know that no amount of T20 and IPL cricket under his belt after a sustained absence from the Test match scene would be a substitute for hard first-class grind. 

To get his preparations in order for six Tests in England across nine weeks at the height of the UK summer, Hazlewood requires long spells with the red ball, a scenario that T20 can't mimic with its limitations, said Clarke. 

The ex captain is baffled that Australia's critical pacer continues to stay put in India even as most other national Test incumbents, outside him and David Warner, are busy preparing for the Ashes. 

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"I don’t know why he’s overplaying IPL. I don’t know why he’s not over here in Australia preparing to play Test match cricket. I know they’ll have people over there, in the nets, he’ll be bowling more than what the IPL players are bowling, in preparation for Test match cricket," Clarke was quoted as saying by Fox Sports. 

"I just don’t know if him bowling three overs, four overs right now is his best preparation for an Ashes series, after the injuries he’s had and the amount of time he’s had out of Test cricket. It’s great to see him back playing; there’s no doubt about it, but for Australian Test cricket fans, you want to see him at his best for this Ashes series," he added. 

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