Sheffield Shield offers solution to Australia’s middle order problems
With the Australian selectors crying out for middle order batsmen to make runs, it brings about the question of whether there is anyone in the domestic ranks who deserves a shot.
The fact that there are five opening batsmen in the Ashes squad, and the selectors are trying to mould some of them into middle order batsmen, is alarming as even though it may work on the odd occasion, why are we not blooding more players who are used to batting in the middle order.
Last season’s Sheffield Shield statistics show that three of the top five run-scorers were opening batsmen, while the leading scorer was Ricky Ponting who scored 911 runs from nine games at an average of 75.91.
Aside from Ricky Ponting and all of the opening batsmen, the top three scoring middle order men for the season were as followed:
1) Alex Doolan (TAS)
Doolan managed 715 runs from ten games at an average of 42.05 including one century and four fifties.
2) Callum Ferguson (SA)
From nine games, Ferguson scored 639 runs at an average of 39.93 including just the one century and two fifties.
3) Joe Burns (Queensland)
Burns registered 587 runs for the season from ten games at an average of 32.61 including two centuries and two fifties.
With age on their side, all these three batsmen have potential to become international cricketers.
Why are not one of these in the Ashes squad?
Many have touted Tasmanian number three Alex Doolan as a future star, but yet his opportunities have been limited, as he is yet to make his debut in any format for the national team. Playing his state cricket in Tasmania should also work in his favour, with Bellerive arguably the most bowler friendly pitch in the country, he has shown he has what it takes to make runs in tough conditions.
Callum Ferguson has always been around the mark for an Australian Test call up, but he seemingly still needs a break out season before this will be the case. With 30 ODIs to his name, the young South Australian batsman seemed to have the world at his feet, but he seems to have all but fallen off the radar of the national selectors across all formats of the game.
Just like Ferguson, Joe Burns is regarded as a future international cricketer by many throughout the domestic ranks. Plying his trade for Queensland, Burns’s ability to make runs on another bowler friendly pitch at the Gabba has shown that he has what it takes to make it on the big stage, but he is yet to be given the chance.
Despite averaging only 37 in five games of four day cricket last season, Steve Smith was given his chance in the Test team, and he has rewarded the selectors’ faith and one could argue that the fact he is a born and bred middle order batsman, is why he is having success.
So instead of quick fixes with Cowan, Warner and Hughes in the middle order, why not blood the like of Doolan, Ferguson and Burns into the national squad and give them a chance to strut their stuff in their natural positions in the middle order.