Pat Cummins under fire over bizarre Josh Hazlewood move in World Cup semi-final

The Aussie cricket skipper raised a few eyebrows with his captaincy against South Africa.

Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood at the Cricket World Cup.
Many felt Pat Cummins (centre) gave too many overs to Adam Zampa (R) and not enough to Josh Hazlewood (L). Image: Getty

Questions are being asked about why Pat Cummins opted not to bowl Josh Hazlewood for his full 10 overs in Australia's win over South Africa at the Cricket World Cup. Hazlewood rocked South Africa early in Thursday's semi-final and finished with figures of 2-12 off eight overs.

His figures marked the most economical by an Australian bower in 17 years while sending down at least eight overs in a one-day international. But somewhat inexplicably, Cummins opted not to bring Hazlewood back for his final two overs.

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Hazlewood and Starc were getting plenty of movement with the new ball and had South Africa 4-24 after the first 13 overs. But from there the pitch flattened out and started to produce more spin, with Travis Head taking two wickets in one over with his part-time offies.

Cummins relied heavily on spinners Head, Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell until the end of the innings, but opted to bowl Starc for 10 overs and himself for 9.4. Starc took 3-34 in his best performance of the World Cup so far, while Cummins snared three late wickets to finish with 3-51.

Pat Cummins questioned over Josh Hazlewood decision

But the fact Hazlewood was left on the shelf raised plenty of eyebrows around the cricket world, particularly considering Zampa was well below his best. The leg-spinner came into the match as the leading wicket-taker for the tournament, but finished with 0-55 off seven overs against South Africa.

David Miller (101) and Heinrich Klaasen (47) got well on top of Zampa, but Cummins persisted with his leggie instead of handing the ball back to Hazlewood. South Africa went on to make 212 when it looked like they should have made much less.

“Sometimes as a batter, you would wish you could have a conversation with the opposition captain to say, ‘Please keep bowling that bowler’, Very often it doesn’t happen,” Shane Watson said in commentary. “But this is the moment he will try to capitalise on with Zampa staying in.”

Ricky Ponting added: “I think that might be Zampa done, though, while Miller is at the crease. I am surprised to see him go back to Zampa for that last over. You can see that Miller is sitting and waiting for Zampa to come on.”

Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood look on during a rain delay in the World Cup semi-final. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Veteran statistician Ric Finlay wrote on social media: "Did Josh Hazlewood have something else to do in Kolkata last night? Bowled the 18th over of the match, a maiden, in a game that lasted 97.2 overs, then was not sighted on my TV screen again!"

Cricket commentator Viren Hemrajani wrote: “There’s no reason to not complete Hazlewood’s quota. Should have been done earlier if he was hesitant to use him in the death”.

Hazlewood hasn't bowled all 10 of his overs a number of times throughout the tournament, sparking some concerns around his fitness. Hazlewood and Cummins have both played all 10 games so far this World Cup, while Starc has played nine.

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Australia will now turn their attention to Sunday's blockbuster final against India. Cummins' side know they will need to improve with the bat if they have any chance of taking down Rohit Sharma's side.

The Aussies lost 5-67 in their chase against South Africa, with Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell all playing questionable shots. But Cummins (14 not out) and Starc (16 not out) got them over the line with 16 balls to spare, combining for a match-winning 22-run partnership amid tricky conditions.

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