Mitch Marsh facing potential ban as Josh Hazlewood sparks spirit of cricket storm at T20 World Cup

Hazlewood says it is in Australia's best interest to knock England out of the T20 World Cup.

Australian cricket fans are licking their lips at the prospect of the Aussies getting one over on their bitter rivals England by beating Scotland by a narrow margin at the T20 World Cup, but it could come at a cost. On Wednesday, Australian fast bowler Josh Hazlewood said it would be in their "best interests" to do what was needed to knock the Poms out.

But if the Aussies employ cheeky tactics in their final match against Scotland, Mitch Marsh could face serious sanctions from the International Cricket Council (ICC). Australia's match against England was set to be the first real test of the Aussies' T20 World Cup campaign but it ended up being anything but as Australia cruised to a 36-run victory on Saturday. Australia followed it up with a nine-wicket demolition job of Oman on Wednesday to secure their spot in the last eight.

Pictured left Mitch Marsh and Josh Hazlewood and right Jos Buttler
Mitch Marsh faces a two-match ban if Australia are found to have manipulated their final group stage match against Scotland. Image: Getty

The win keeps the Aussies undefeated through three matches at the T20 World Cup and means they will finish top of Group B if they beat Scotland. One other nation will progress into the final eight from Group B and Australia potentially will get the opportunity to take England's progress out of their hands.

England must beat cricket minnows Oman on Thursday and Namibia on Saturday to have any chance of progressing. But even if they do, their hopes of reaching the Super 8 will hinge on the outcome of the final Group B match between their Ashes rivals and neighbours Scotland.

With net run-rate set to be the deciding factor there is a good chance that Australia will have an amount of runs they can win by and still send Scotland through to the last eight at England's expense. "In this tournament, you potentially come up against England at some stage again - and they're probably one of the top few teams on their day," Hazlewood said.

"We've had some real struggles against them in T20 cricket, so if we can get them out of the tournament, that's in our best interests, as well as probably everyone else's. Whether we have discussions or not (over tactics to block England's progress), or we just try and play again the way we played tonight, that will be up to (other) people, not me."

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - JUNE 05: Marcus Stoinis of Australia celebrates with teammates after dismissing Aqib Ilyas of Oman during the ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup West Indies & USA 2024 match between Australia  and Oman at  Kensington Oval on June 05, 2024 in Bridgetown, Barbados. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)
Australia remained undefeated at the T20 World Cup with a demolition job of cricket minnows Oman on Wednesday.

Hazlewood floated the idea that Australia could "knock it around and drag it out" to give Scotland the chance to progress on net run rate and in turn send England packing. However, it could come at a cost with captain Marsh under threat of being banned for two matches if Australia manipulated the result.

Clause 2.11 of the ICC's code of conduct specifically mentions "inappropriate manipulation of a net run-rate" for "strategic or tactical reasons such as when a team deliberately loses a pool match in an ICC Event in order to affect the standings of other teams in that ICC Event". As Australian captain, Marsh would be liable for any such offence and could cop two suspension points - effectively a two-match ban. The decision on whether a team was doing this would be determined by the match referee.

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In practice, it is likely difficult for umpires to say categorically Australia had deliberately attempted to manipulate net run rate, barring a clear and obvious shift in tempo late in the match to delay the outcome. Regardless, Australian coach Andrew McDonald will likely consider making changes to the team to rest crucial players with nothing on the line in their final pool fixture against Scotland.

England's Aussie head coach Matthew Mott says he believes Hazlewood's comments were tongue in cheek and showcased his "very good sense of humour". "I think I know Josh pretty well and I know his integrity. He's got a very good sense of humour," Mott said.

"I am hoping it was very much tongue in cheek. I actually don't think it is ever going to play out. Having grown up in Australia, and the will to win every game, I am sure they will come to the fore. I am very much hoping it was an offhand remark by a really good bloke who is having fun."

Hazlewood's comments have once again sparked the spirit of cricket debate with England fans understandably outraged at the prospect of Australia taking it easy on their neighbours while Aussie cricket fans are loving every second of holding all the aces.