Sheffield Shield offers solution to Australia’s middle order problems

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    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.

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • August 2nd 2013 @ 2:42am
      Nudge said | August 2nd 2013 @ 2:42am | ! Report

      Maddinson next in forget ferguson

    • Roar Guru

      August 2nd 2013 @ 9:57am
      Graham Smith said | August 2nd 2013 @ 9:57am | ! Report

      As much as I would like Doolan to do well being another Tasmanian Tim Coyle product he just hasnt nailed enough centuries. We need to be patient and expect centuries not good looking 30’s and 40’s and ask these young batsmen to demand selection.

    • August 2nd 2013 @ 10:26am
      cwrigh13 said | August 2nd 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      Good article. But I still think that they (Burns and Doolan espy) need more first class experience before being chucked in the deep end. They also need to make a choice between barbie doll cricket (ie IPL) and proper grown up cricket (first class cricket). And never the twain should meet. No warming up for an Ashes series by bowling four overs for $800k in the IPL.

    • August 2nd 2013 @ 12:43pm
      Hookin' YT said | August 2nd 2013 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

      Silk and Maddinson are the best bets at the top of the order. They need big scores at the start of the Shield season.

      • August 2nd 2013 @ 12:45pm
        Hookin' YT said | August 2nd 2013 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

        …after Rogers goes. Watson has got to go now.

    • August 2nd 2013 @ 2:00pm
      Timmuh said | August 2nd 2013 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

      The simple fact is none of them have proven they deserve a place. I’m not one for believing in putting promising players into the Test side. Make them work for it through performance. Burns had a mediocre Shield season, from memory two games towards the end lifted his numbers considerably from where they had been. Doolan just doesn’t quite do enough to press for full honours and really only is a Test possibility and would potentialy be ruined by playing short format internationals.

      I hope they come on along with Lynn, Maddinson and Silk among other prosoects; but none have done enough yet to prove they deserve to displace any of the (apart from last night) poorly performing incumbents. Make them earn it through their performance, not just that the others aren’t up to the mark. If they show they are the best, then pick them. “A” tours and the like are great for their development in the off-season. Hard, solid Shield cricket – preferably with more Test players available more often – needs to be their proving ground with soime big scores and few failures, and the ones mentioned have shown enough to give interest.

      • August 2nd 2013 @ 2:43pm
        Gr8rWeStr said | August 2nd 2013 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

        How well should you really have to perform to displace under performing players? Surely, you should just have to show a reasonable potential of out performing the under performing incumbents? Otherwise your just rewarding the mediocrity of the under performing incumbents and continuing to gift them more undeserved Tests, aren’t you? 😉

        Doolan and Maddinson have both been involved in the Australia A tours of England, Ireland and Scotland and, currently, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Maddinson, so far, has out performed Doolan. Burns is struggling, averaging 30, in county cricket. Ferguson appears to have disappeared of the radar.

        • August 2nd 2013 @ 3:39pm
          Hookin' YT said | August 2nd 2013 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

          Where is Silk? Opening with Shaun Marsh, what a joke.

    • August 2nd 2013 @ 4:33pm
      BLOCKER said | August 2nd 2013 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

      i am confused, are those figures meant to be impressive? averages of 42,40 and 32? if that is next best we are in for a long decade.

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