10 players to watch in this season’s Sheffield Shield
As the Australian summer of Test cricket approaches, domestic players have already started their season, eager to impress national selectors.
The Australian Test team has gone through some turbulent times in recent seasons and it still isn’t as stable as it was once was.
With that in mind there are a number of state players who are confident that strong performances in the Sheffield Shield may lead to a prestigious Baggy Green cap.
Here are ten of the players keen to take their career one step further over the coming months and receive their maiden Test call up.
10. Mitchell Marsh (Western Australia)
Marsh has been touted as one of the next big things in Australian cricket for so long that it’s easy to forget he’s still only 20. He is yet to truly reach his potential and after a disappointing 2011/12 season, where he only averaged 18 with the bat and took 17 wickets, this powerful all-rounder will be looking to bounce back this season.
How he returns from stress-fractures in his back that he suffered last season will be key to not only his but also the Western Australia’s season. The national one-day team may be a more likely chance for the son of Geoff Marsh but a strong Shield season may have him right in the frame for a call up should Australia’s premier all-rounder Shane Watson be ruled out at any stage over the summer.
9. Tom Cooper (South Australia)
Despite already playing international cricket for the Netherlands this powerful middle order batsman will be looking to follow the likes of Dirk Nannes by turning international recognition into a place in the Australian team.
A double hundred and an average of over 44 last season proves that Cooper may be finally starting to turn his potential into consistent big scores. At the still relatively young age of 25, higher honours could be on the horizon if he can continue that form this season.
8. Josh Hazlewood (New South Wales)
Much like Mitchell Marsh and many others on this list, this 196cm fast bowler is another who has been tipped to play for the national team before. Hazlewood, still only 21, has represented Australia in the short form of the game and has also been part of Australian Test squads but is still yet to receive his Baggy Green.
With Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins likely to be with the national team all season there is a real chance for Hazlewood to produce a strong consistent season for NSW. If he can achieve that this season than he may soon find himself taking part in the national selectors’ rotation policy for the test quicks.
7. Nic Maddinson (New South Wales)
This youngster has been tipped to make the test team ever since he made 113 on debut for NSW. 21-year-old Maddinson will probably benefit most from the top order departures of Katich, Jacques, Khawaja and Hughes as it will allow him to truly cement his position and become a key player for the Blues.
His form dropped away a little last season but with Australia’s Test opening combination still not quite settled, a strong season from Maddinson could see him as another to benefit from the selectors apparent policy of potential over performance.
6. Joe Burns (Queensland)
This 23-year-old batsman is only entering his second season of a full state contract and is still yet to play 20 first class matches. However, Burns’ form last season was enough to prove that he is one to watch over the coming months. He scored two centuries last season at an average of over 40 and was rewarded with a call up to the Australia A squad.
Burns will be keen to continue his form this season but will have to do it knowing that all of the domestic bowlers will targeting the Bulls team as they attempt to take the Shield title away from them.
5. Cameron Boyce (Queensland)
With Nathan Lyon still yet to truly cement his position as an international test wicket taker, the motivation is still there for spinners to perform in this season’s Sheffield Shield. Boyce is a talented 23-year-old leg spinner who amassed 20 wickets in last season’s competition.
If he can become more consistent and improve his economy rate (it was over four runs an over in last season’s four day competition) Boyce may be the next in line in Australia’s seemingly revolving door of spin bowlers.
4. Ben Cutting (Queensland)
It was only just over a year ago that many considered Australia’s fast bowling stocks to be in a dire situation. But with the test team now containing an impressive fast bowling battery with the likes of Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Harris, Starc and Cummins, the future looks bright.
With the selectors taking a cautious approach with the young and injury-prone quicks there is still a strong chance for domestic fast bowlers to make their way into the test team’s rotation. Ben Cutting was part of last summer’s Test squad and many even tipped him to make his debut in the Gabba Test match.
The 25-year-old’s pace bowling took 36 wickets last season at the impressive average of 18. He is also a handy lower order batsman, averaging a tick under 30 in last season’s competition while he has already notched up his maiden first class century when he made 109 against South Australia in this season’s first match.
It surely seems only a matter of time before we see Ben Cutting among the Test squad again.
3. Jackson Bird (Tasmania)
This time a year ago barely anyone in Australia cricket had even heard of this 25-year-old opening bowler. Bird, who hits the deck consistently at about 135km/h, went on to take 53 wickets at the astonishing average of just 15.
With two ten wicket hauls (no other domestic bowler achieved even one) and with the best match figures of 11/195 Bird went on to be named the Sheffield Shield player of the season. His ability to use the ball and skill as a wicket taker see him as another who would not look out of place in a baggy green this summer.
2. Moises Henriques (New South Wales)
Admittedly, Henriques wasn’t this high on the original list but if early season signs are anything to go by then we may be in for something special in the season’s Sheffield Shield. The highly talented Portuguese born all-rounder has had his injury problems but has also represented Australia in the one-day format before. With the likes of Ponting and Hussey in the twilight of their test career there is plenty of motivation for players to score runs in the domestic game.
Henriques undoubtedly has the talent with both bat and ball to make a position in the test team his but it would be a challenge to work him in with the similarly talented Shane Watson. But with the early season stats of over 200 runs and seven wickets already, the stage is set for Henriques to have a prolific season that could even include a baggy green.
1. Alister McDermott (Queensland)
The son of Australian opening bowler and former national bowling coach Craig, this fiery red headed quick shares many similarities with his father. He has the ability to really trouble batsman with his speed and ball movement and has also tasted international cricket when he was called up to Australia’s one-day team. His average last season was even better than that of Jackson Bird and he seems to be improving each season.
Still only 21, McDermott achieved his best figures in an innings when he finished with the remarkable second innings figures of 7/24 in a game Queensland lost by one wicket. He will be at the forefront of Queensland’s charge to defend their title and if he continues to improve it will surely only be a matter of time before there’s a much newer looking Baggy Green in the McDermott household.
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