Hazlewood's heart at home in horror summer

Scott Bailey
Josh Hazlewood's thoughts have very much been on the bushfires that have affected rural Australia

Josh Hazlewood has played this summer with part of his heart firmly in northern NSW.

A proud country boy from the small town of Bendameer just north of Tamworth, Hazlewood knows better than most the troubles hurting Australia's rural regions.

First, there is the crippling drought, which has the town in stage-five water restrictions with dams at around 15 per cent and residential water use outside the house banned.

"It's the worst dad has remembered and he has been there his whole life," Hazlewood told AAP.

"I know in Armidale they haven't played (cricket) on turf (wickets) all year.

"They're probably a touch worse than us, but that's a first for them."

Then there have been the bushfires.

The northern part of the state was the first hit by the ongoing crisis.

Hazlewood's home town of about 500 people escaped largely unscathed.

"Even dad a couple of months ago has been helping out as much as he can," Hazlewood said.

"You have the volunteer firefighters but the locals do just as much sometimes.

"It's good in a community like that.

"Everyone helps everyone. Phone calls go around so everyone drops everything and helps out."

It's why Hazlewood has kept one eye on his phone for the majority of a summer where he's experienced his own tough times due to a hamstring injury.

The quick is back to full fitness for this week's one-day series in India, after missing the final two Tests of the summer.

Even in India, the bushfires have remained a talking point for players on tour.

Players have donated money and auctioned off items through the summer, while more money is expected to be raised at next month's legends match.

They've also been encouraged to volunteer with Cricket Australia paying for all employees to assist for three days in affected areas.

"Family friends of my mum and dad have had a few grass fires close to them. But I'm always looking at it on the fire app," Hazlewood said.

"It was pretty brutal there on the north coast. I know (NSW teammate) Nick Larkin had a bit of family affected.

"You can be in the city and just see it on the news every night and think it's bad.

"But if you're talking to people who are directly involved in it, and you're getting footage through or photos and videos and all that sort of stuff, it's pretty bad.

"That hits home a lot more, when you know the people who are involved rather just seeing strangers' homes burn down."