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Hazlewood anoints Coulter-Nile as Aussie spearhead

Cricket

Josh Hazlewood has anointed Nathan Coulter-Nile the leader of Australia’s attack at the World Twenty20.

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Hazlewood is one of the first men picked in the national Test side but the 25-year-old says he doesn’t hold a candle to Coulter-Nile when it comes to the shortest format.

“He’s the real leader in this format,” Hazlewood said.

He’ll have a big say in this tournament

“He’s flying at the moment and is bowling good pace. He’ll have a big say in this tournament… it’s good to have that fresh bowler around the group lifting us to try to compete with him.”

Australia start their World T20 campaign against New Zealand in Dharamsala on Friday, when Hazlewood is expected to be left out of the side.

Coulter-Nile will play a crucial role in not only that match but Australia’s entire bid to win the one major tournament they never have.

The paceman is the fastest bowler in their 15-man squad and is set to bowl in the opening powerplay, when the field is up and the runs flow freely.

Mitch Marsh nominated Coulter-Nile as Australia’s key bowler at the tournament.

Marsh also hoped there were even more rewards to come for his Western Australia teammate.

Coulter-Nile was on the cusp of Test selection during the past summer when he dislocated his shoulder.

Marsh suggested an unlucky streak of injuries was the only thing stopping Coulter-Nile from playing at the highest level.

“If Australia can have him on the park over the next four or five years he’s going to play a lot of cricket for Australia,” Marsh said.

“Not only in the short format, but in the longer format as well.

“He’s a great bowler. He’s extremely skilful. He bowls good pace… hopefully he can stay injury free and I’m sure he’s going to perform extremely well.”

Meanwhile, Marsh admits he feared his hopes of playing in the World Twenty20 were over in January, when he had just been overlooked for a home series against India, Australia’s final piece of T20 action before selectors named their 15-man squad for the tournament.

The West Australian suspected Rod Marsh’s panel decided to look elsewhere in their search for an arsenal of allrounders.

“Initially I did, yeah. It was obviously very disappointing,” Marsh said.

“They obviously just wanted to have a look at a few guys throughout that series so maybe it was a little bit of a blessing that I had a week off.”

Marsh managed to nail down his spot with a couple of impressive ODI knocks.

He is set to bat at No.6 in the World T20. The 24-year-old is in form – of sorts – having hit the winning runs in both Johannesburg and Cape Town during the recent T20 series in South Africa. He faced a single delivery in both drama-packed games.

“Correct – James Faulkner, eat your heart out,” Marsh joked, when asked if he was the side’s new finisher.

Marsh is one of a handful of allrounders charged with filling the immense void left by the absence of pacemen Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Pat Cummins.

“We’re going to have probably seven or eight guys who can bowl overs so Smithy [skipper Steve Smith] has a lot of options,” Marsh said.

“Whether or not I bowl one over or four overs, I’ll just try and contribute to the team and go for the least amount of runs I can.”

Marsh hoped his added pace would help in that regard.

“Over the last 18 months, my bowling has just improved and I set out a goal with [bowling coach] Craig McDermott that I wanted to get out another five or more kilometres,” he said.

“It’s been really pleasing to see that happen.

“But at the same time, Twenty20 cricket is all about variation as well so it won’t just be coming in and trying to bowl as fast as I can every ball.”

Marsh has lengthened his run-up while attempting to hit the 140km/h mark more consistently.

“It meant that I had to get a little bit fitter than I was maybe two years ago,” Marsh said.

Australia will train in Dharamsala for the first time today, when they will seek to acclimatise to the chilly conditions in the foothills of the Himalayas.

-AAP

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