Boy from Bendemeer on road to stardom

There were only five pupils in Josh Hazlewood's school – now he's ready for step up in class against England

Australia have arrived again. To nobody's astonishment they have picked a teenage fast bowler from the outback. His name is Josh Hazlewood, he is 6ft 6ins tall, still growing, will not be 20 until next January and looks as if he helps old ladies across roads as part of his boy scout duties.

Not that there are many roads where Hazlewood comes from. Bendemeer is a settlement in New South Wales of around 300 people, 300 miles north of Sydney, 30 miles east of Tamworth. It was established for sheep and cattle drovers.

It is part of Australian cricket folklore that when they need a cricketer they merely whistle up one from the country as England used to summon speed merchants from the depths of some northern pit. The difference is that Australia still has an outback.

The Boy from Bendemeer has a ring to it, like the Boy from Bowral, whence came Don Bradman. Hazlewood was a late addition to the one-day squad for this tour when Mitchell Johnson withdrew because of an infected left elbow. If he plays he will become Australia's youngest one-day cricketer, nosing under Ray Bright and Craig McDermott.

"I'm 90 per cent certain he'll play one or two games," said the coach Tim Nielsen. "He's had success whichever age group he's played. He's a big strapping kid, a country boy so he's pretty laidback and relaxed. I don't think it will faze him too much. He'll have a real crack at this and I think we might be seeing the start of something special."

The last country boy who bowled fast for Australia was Glenn McGrath, who came from Narromine, a veritable metropolis compared to Bendemeer, 200 or so miles down the track. Hazlewood will probably be that type of bowler, fast enough at around 85mph but not a tearaway, with enough bounce to perplex the best batsmen.

His dad is the local builder, his mum is a teacher. Josh went to primary school in Bendemeer where there were five pupils in his class and then to Tamworth. He now lives in Sydney. "A lot of whatever talent I've got came from my dad and I'm the same size and build," said Hazlewood. "I might have one more growth spurt left in me. I like the idea of being in the line of other country boys like McGrath and Gilchrist. The Ashes is obviously the main dream but Test cricket in general, I want to be part of that."

It will probably be too soon for him in the Ashes this winter. Australia have used seven fast bowlers in Test matches since the Ashes series in England last year and all of them have cut the mustard to a degree. Presumably, Hazlewood takes his place behind the lot of them. But fast bowlers emerge quickly and Hazlewood was prominent in Australia Under-19's World Cup win in January. His rhythm grew throughout the competition and when it really mattered for the team, he took four wickets in both the semi-final and final, in the latter when they were defending a total of 206.

Apart from the five-match one-day series against England which starts at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday, Australia will play in all formats of the game against Pakistan. The England and Wales Cricket Board have had a hard time of it lately largely because of their mangled domestic programme but their initiative in hosting Pakistan, who cannot play in their own troubled country, should be commended.

Ricky Ponting, Australia's captain, was elated to be back. He loves playing against England, it gives him an extra charge and he made no secret of his belief that the Ashes starts now.

Nor is he concerned that the oldest enemies are playing each other too often – last summer, this summer, next winter. By the time the World Cup starts England will have played Australia in another 12 one-day matches.

"I have always been against seven-match series but I love the contest of playing against England," said Ponting. "I don't think it diminishes the product, they are always big series and I think the people out there like to see their two teams go at it as well."

Australia will start as favourites. They are the world's leading 50-over team by a distance and have also beaten England in seven of the most recent eight matches. England will definitely be encouraged, however, by the World Twenty20 final when they took the Aussies to the cleaners.

"We will be doing everything we can to impose ourselves on the series from the start," said Ponting. "We expect to be asked about the Ashes all the time. Everyone can't wait for them to come round, everyone wants to know about them. As an Australian player and captain there is nothing bigger. This one-day series won't have any bearing, but I'm really happy with our group of players."

If England, with new openers and a settled attack growing in experience, lose 3-2, that would be progress. Anything better would give them premature dreams of World Cup glory.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments