Josh Hazlewood has tried to avoid watching the World Cup because the disappointment of missing out on Australia's squad remains raw.
Hazlewood suffered a back stress fracture in early January and hasn't played since the final Test against India at the SCG. He was left out of the initial 15-man World Cup squad, yet retained hope of making the final cut - setting himself the comeback target of the pre-tournament warm-up matches - but was overlooked when an injury replacement was needed for Jhye Richardson.
On Friday he departs with the Australia A squad for England, as part of both the one-day and four-day teams, the latter providing build-up to the Ashes, putting him much closer to the tournament he is still hurting at not being part of.
"I haven't watched too much to be honest," he told ESPNcricinfo. "I've seen the scores but I'm trying to stay away from it as much as I can. It's pretty tough. It will be harder to avoid when I get over there but it's not been too bad in Australia, you've got the footy on all the time and it doesn't start until late so you can avoid it but when I get to England it might be a bit different."
Hazlewood, who was part of Australia's successful 2015 World Cup campaign and has an overall ODI record of 72 wickets at 25.15, said he has been back bowling for 10-12 weeks and off his full run for a month which dates back to Australia's pre-World Cup in Brisbane. However, when Jhye Richardson's shoulder injury ruled him out before the squad flew to England it was Kane Richardson who was called up. And while Hazlewood acknowledges a tight time frame, he believes he would have been ready.
"There's a few different opinions on that but I was always in the place where I was going to play one of the warm-up games in England, against Sri Lanka or England," he said. "That was always the goal, building up the workload for that game but, yeah, it was pretty tight and a big tournament to go into with not much cricket and that's how the selectors saw it. I was always confident of playing the role but the focus is now on the Ashes, this Australia A tour and getting out of it what I need to to be ready. I'm just itching to play now."
Test captain Tim Paine recently said Hazlewood was "dirty" at his World Cup omission and was looking forward to having an extra-motivated fast bowler for the Ashes. There remains an outside chance that if one of the incumbent one-day bowlers goes down over the next few weeks that Hazlewood could yet get his chance, but the main target is now the opening Test at Edgbaston on August 1. Part of his rehab has included some tweaks to his action to take pressure off his back in the hope of avoiding a recurrence of his injury.
"I've made a few changes to my action in the last couple of months, not big things just little things to avoid," he said. "With the changes I've made everything feels really smooth, taking a bit of pressure off the back. So it's just about maintaining that under pressure in match situations which I'm pretty confident of."
He does concede, however, that five Tests in six weeks could be too much. "Especially where I'm coming from I guess," he said. "Someone like Pat Cummins, who has been on fire for the best part of two years and hasn't missed any cricket, then his idea is probably a little bit different. But it's [measured] on overs not matches, so if you can sneak in an innings where you don't bowl too many it all adds up in the bowler's favour.
"England are probably in the same boat, they might have a group of five or six quicks. I still think for those long series you need that - three doesn't really cut it, even if you are fit you are probably lacking in energy and you'll be flat for a games or an innings here and there. It's about realising when that is and maybe bringing in someone fresh."
The one-day leg of the Australia A tour, which is captained by Travis Head, includes six matches concurrent with the second half of the World Cup before the four-day portion of three games. That includes a fixture against England Lions before what is shaping as an Ashes-selection showdown in Southampton when Australia face Australia A with the squad set to be named straight afterwards, just five days before the start of the series.