Aussies win final Ashes tune-up easily

Josh Hazlewood bounced back from a first-over mauling on Saturday, powering Australia to a 169-run win in their final Ashes tune-up.

Hazlewood conceded 27 runs in his opening over, but kept calm and grabbed figures of 4-42 as Essex were rolled for 200 in Chelmsford.

New-ball partner Mitchell Starc also impressed with three scalps, making it nine wickets for the match.

The young guns will join Mitchell Johnson in an unchanged attack for the first Test, which starts on Wednesday.

Starc and Hazlewood made an underwhelming first impression with the ball on day two, but they’ll travel to Cardiff with a good deal more confidence now.

The visitors added nine runs to their overnight score in Chelmsford, setting the hosts a victory target of 370 on Saturday.

Jesse Ryder was promoted to opener and showed his side had every intention of reeling it in, despite having two players unable to bat due to injuries.

Hazlewood, whose importance to Australia during the Ashes has been amplified by Ryan Harris’ retirement, copped the brunt of the Ryder storm.

The 24-year-old started with a dot ball but that was followed by a combination of clean hitting, skied edges and a no-ball as Ryder teed off at every opportunity.

It was on again in Hazlewood’s second over, when Ryder sent the first ball racing to the rope.

Hazlewood and his teammates were certain Ryder was out edging in the same over, but the New Zealand slugger remained rooted to the crease and the umpire had no interest in the appeal.

Ryder’s 37-run blitz ended when his middle stump was uprooted by Starc.

The preceding over, Hazlewood picked up the first wicket of his maiden Ashes tour by trapping opener Jaik Mickleburgh lbw in the sixth over.

The NSW metronome grew in confidence and struck thrice in his second spell – dismissing Ryan ten Doeschate and Jamie Porter lbw with consecutive balls.

Hazlewood couldn’t complete the hat-trick, but offspinner Nathan Lyon wrapped up victory soon after with his only wicket of the match.

Lyon finished with the unflattering match figures of 1-200 from 34.4 overs.

Pat Cummins will join Australia in Cardiff as a replacement for Harris, while Victorian veteran Peter Siddle is also in the 17-man squad.

But selectors will almost certainly stick with Hazlewood, man of the series in Australia’s recent 2-0 series win over the West Indies.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan noted Harris’ omission was a “massive blow” for the tourists.

“Ryan Harris IMO was Australia’s most dangerous threat in English conditions,” Vaughan posted on Twitter.

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