I fail to see exactly how that is possible that New South Wales cricket – and Australian cricket for that matter – is going so well that Nic Maddinson is not considered to be good enough to warrant a State contract for the 2018/19 season.
Given the record of the batsmen in this state last season, it seems impossible that Maddinson is the only one who is being singled out to have his contract ripped up.
Maddinson’s unfortunate foray into the Test team last season has been well documented, as has his necessity to take a break from the game not long after it. His confidence was no doubt affected, and it seemed to show in the Sheffield Shield in the past season.
His first-class figures don’t lie and they don’t make a strong case for his retention, scoring just 307 runs at 23.81 in the Sheffield Shield in 2017/18, with his only half-century coming in the final game at Wollongong, a slashing 87 from 63 deliveries that felt as though he had decided his last chance to get out of his slump was to hit his way out.
Elsewhere though, he showed he has a talent that should still be being nurtured. He finished second in run aggregate in the JLT Cup in October, with 398 runs at 66.33 including two centuries. In the Big Bash he scored 291 runs at 32.33, with a strike rate of 145.
With this form, he has already signed for the Melbourne Stars for the next three seasons, leaving the Sydney Sixers for whom he has been a shining light in all seven seasons of the Big Bash League.
The Blues spent the second half of the season playing a batsman short, batting Peter Nevill at six and relying on Trent Copeland and Steven O’Keefe to score runs at seven and eight. This selection decision eventually cost Maddinson his place in the team when the Shield resumed in February, though it would also be fair to suggest his stats in the first five rounds (177 runs at 17.70) didn’t help his cause.
However, the fact that he was replaced by a bowler and that they produced fewer runs than what Nic had produced to that point left NSW vulnerable each innings, and it is a major reason they fell away after the BBL break.
What was the mindset of the selectors that they believed they could win games with just five specialist batsmen?
Having left him out during that time, it now appears that the brokers at Cricket New South Wales are going to cut him from their contracted list when it is announced. They have already dismissed the coach Trent Johnston (and have yet to replace him) and they appear to be looking for scapegoats for the squad’s lacklustre recent seasons in first class cricket.
And that is their prerogative.
On November 20, 2016, I took my then 9-year-old son Josh to the Shield match at the SCG between NSW and Victoria. We walked in and stood behind the nets, right behind Nic Maddinson. Nic was polite and friendly, asked us how we were, and chatted with us while he batted.
As he walked out of the nets back to the dressing rooms, he asked Josh if he would like his gloves. Hero worship made easy. We wished him luck for the day as NSW prepared to chase another 352 on the final day for victory.
Nic made 33, and the Blues lost by 198 runs. That afternoon as we drove home, Nic Maddinson was chosen to make his Test debut. My son still has his gloves in his room. So, I may be a little biased.
How do you justify casting aside a young man, still just 26 years of age, who has played three Tests and two T20 internationals for Australia less than two years ago? There need to be some serious questions asked of the setup of cricket in this state if they have failed so spectacularly in their support of a young cricketer in their squad.
If they honestly believe he is now not in the best dozen batsmen in the state, then there are problems deeper than just Maddinson’s batting form that needs to be addressed.
Whatever the motivation of NSW cricket is in choosing not to contract Nic Maddinson for next season, it appears short-sighted and unfair. Perhaps there are reasons behind the scenes that have not be revealed, but if it is purely in a cricketing sense then this looks like a petty and unjustifiable decision.
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