YOUNG gun Josh Hazlewood is just days away from launching a late bid for selection in Australia's ODI squad. The giant paceman has recovered from a foot injury that cost him a chance to make his Test debut against Sri Lanka and is likely to play for Sydney Sixers against Brisbane Heat on Monday night. Hazlewood, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is on the radar for the ODI series against Sri Lanka as Australia continues their experimentation leading into the 2015 World Cup. The Tamworth product was one of the key players in the Sixers' successful Champions League campaign in October and has been sorely missed in their defence of last summer's Big Bash title.
Mitchell Johnson just might be Nuwan Pradeep's new favourite person. Prior to claiming the wicket of Johnson the Sri Lankan paceman's bowling average was 399 (at tea on Friday) before nudging 400. The dismissal halved it to a much more respectable figure. Pradeep's first Test wicket was Pakistan's Mohammad Ayub, who has not played a Test since. But Pradeep can take heart. Shane Warne was averaging 335 midway through his third Test.
Richie Benaud's unofficial fan club is making big strides in its bid to have a day of the Sydney Test named in honour of the legendary Channel Nine commentator. Starting with a group of 10 in 2009-10, the group has doubled every season and has swelled from 40 members last year to 110. Next season, the Richies are looking to lobby Cricket Australia and Cricket NSW for enough tickets to cater for up to 400 members. ''It has been word of mouth,'' said the group's captain Michael Hennessy, 34, of the club's growth. ''Everyone here is either a friend or a relative of someone here last year.'' The dress code is simple. All members must wear one of the cream, bone, white, off-white, ivory or beige suits made famous by Benaud and carry a microphone bearing Channel Nine's Wide World of Sports logo. There was a sombre addition this year in the form of a black armband to remember the late Tony Greig. The group even has a code of conduct in order to regulate against silly behaviour and over-imbibing. ''The golden rule is 'what would Richie do?' If Richie wouldn't do it, don't do it,'' Hennessy said. Such is their dedication to the behaviour code, members even wear trousers. ''It gets pretty hot but we wear pants because Richie wears pants,'' Hennessy said. ''We respect him.''
Stand by for ''Benaud Ballads'' - Richie's fan club has printed its own song book. The Tonk's favourite was ''Aussie 100'' sung to the tune of The Proclaimers' 1988 classic I'm Gonna be (500 Miles). ''Clarke just made 100 runs and Clarke will make 100 more, just to be the man who makes a double ton will mean we win for sure.''
FIELD OF DREAMS
There was a member of the Starc family making a name out in the middle of the SCG on Friday but it was not Australia's opening bowler. Mitchell Starc's youngest brother Braith, 6, was having a hit during the lunch break. ''He's part of the in2Cricket for the Kellyville Cricket Club and he's out there having a great time,'' Starc's mother Julie told ABC radio. ''He's been looking forward to it for some time. He comes along a lot to watch big brother but he's out there now, so it's quite exciting.'' Starc's younger brother Brandon is the Australian under-20s high jump champion.
Mark Nicholas had one of those moments which can make any broadcaster blush. Nuwan Pradeep had sent down a bouncer which climbed too high for wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal to take. ''Not a hope for Matthew Wade,'' Nicholas exclaimed, before realising his mistake. ''Oh that's not Matthew Wade. I'm sorry to Dinesh Chandimal and Matthew Wade.''