Get out the paracetamol, Australia’s selectors are going to have to wrack their brains before next week’s first Test against the West Indies.
Josh Hazlewood has almost demanded selection after a second new-ball spell showed his form during the drawn three-day tour match in Antigua.
Just as he did on the opening morning at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Hazlewood ripped through the top order of the WICB President’s XI on Friday.
The tall quick picked up 3-4 off four overs, including three maidens, in his only spell during the hosts’ second innings.
It meant Hazlewood finished with match figures of 5-40 after his 2-36 from 19 overs in the first innings.
With Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson toiling away at the windblown nets out the back of the Andy Roberts Stand after they were rested for the practice match, Hazlewood’s performance was a timely reminder of his qualities.
Speculation remains strong Australia will pick leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed for his Test debut for the series opener in Dominica along with incumbent spinner Nathan Lyon.
That means one of Starc, Johnson and Hazlewood must miss out and Lehmann admits selectors are no closer to making that call.
Starc was Australia’s World Cup-winning hero two months ago while Johnson remains the leader of the pace pack in terms of experience and aggression.
But Hazlewood will have every right to feel hard done by if his Antigua displays don’t earn some reward.
“We know how good a bowler he is but it’s always nice for him to get wickets in that scenario and keep pushing his case forward,” Lehmann said of Hazlewood.
“From our point of view, it gives us great headaches leading into the Test match I suppose with selection because until we see the pitch we don’t know the best makeup to get 20 wickets.”
Fawad and Lyon both remain strongly in contention to line-up together for the Windsor Park clash despite neither really taking the tour match by the scruff of the neck.
Lyon was consistently good but only had two first innings wickets to show for his efforts while Fawad started well but finished with match figures of 2-144.
Allrounder Mitchell Marsh was another who did well without really showing he’s in a position to gazump Shane Watson for that role.
Marsh also took two first innings wickets but a forgettable innings of just eight with the bat and a wicketless second bowling effort have probably cruelled his hopes.