Big hitters Chris Lynn and D’Arcy Short, veteran batsman George Bailey, and intimidating quick Nathan Coulter-Nile can all press for World Cup selection in the JLT Cup.
The domestic one-day competition began yesterday today with Victoria narrowly beating Queensland in Townsville, a match which saw Chris Lynn play his first 50-over match for the Bulls in five years.
Lynn is among a host of players who can use this tournament to become part of Australia’s plans for the World Cup, which starts just over eight months from now.
Australia have endured a torrid two years in ODIs and have problems regarding their lack of batting dynamism, their middle order stability and recurring injuries to their leading quicks. This is why the performances of the following four players will be of particular interest in the JLT Cup.
Chris Lynn (Queensland)
Australia for a long time were the most feared ODI batting team in the world, with their aggressive approach helping them win four out of the last five World Cups.
Since claiming the 2015 trophy, however, they have become a more cautious side with the willow and have repeatedly been exposed as possessing an outdated batting strategy.
2019 World Cup hosts and early tournament favourites England have pushed the boundaries, seeking to attack not just during specific periods of their innings but instead from overs one through 50.
To compete with the likes of England, who have a horde of batsmen who strike at more than a run a ball in ODI cricket, Australia need to unearth at least one more ballistic striker.
Australia’s selectors have made it clear they see Lynn as such a player. The most brutal hitter in the country, Lynn dominates T20s but has an underwhelming List A record, with just over 1000 runs at 31.
That ordinary record is, however, reflective of a lack of opportunity, having not played in domestic 50-over cricket for five years now. Lynn also has a serious shoulder issue which greatly restricts his fielding ability. But if he shines in the JLT Cup, expect to see the Queenslander in Australia’s ODI squad for the three-day home series against South Africa, which starts in six weeks’ time.
Nathan Coulter-Nile (Western Australia)
Coulter-Nile is the best one-day quick in Australia after stars Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. In fact, I would argue he’s every bit as good as Cummins in 50-over cricket.
Coulter-Nile swings the white ball beautifully, can reach up to 150km/h, has one of the best bouncers in world cricket, possesses a range of clever changeup deliveries, and is comfortable bowling at any stage of an innings.
Add in his powerful lower order striking and elite fielding and you have a hugely valuable one day cricketer. Unfortunately, similar to Lynn, Coulter-Nile has been held back by his fragile body.
Injuries have limited him to just 21 ODIs for Australia since debuting five years ago, although in those matches he’s returned the fantastic figures of 37 wickets at 26.
Western Australia is stacked with pace talent, with Jason Behrendorff, Jhye Richardson, Andrew Tye and Joel Paris all having played white-ball cricket for Australia. But Coulter-Nile is the best of the lot and Australia will be lucky if he is fit and firing for next year’s World Cup.
George Bailey (Tasmania)
Bailey is my dark horse pick for Australia’s World Cup squad if, that is, he can maintain his extraordinary one-day form of the past 18 months. In that time, Bailey has smashed 685 runs at 68, conquering not just the 2017 JLT Cup but also last year’s Royal London One Day Cup in English county cricket.
It is Bailey’s scorching strike rate of 100 during that period which is of particular relevance. Why? Because Australia’s middle order has continually faltered over the past two years and the selectors may be tempted by a composed veteran batsman like Bailey who has multiple gears to his batting.
Australia need a middle order batsman in the mould of Mike Hussey or Michael Bevan who can either calmly rebuild a stuttering innings or accelerate with ease when given a great platform by the top order.
D’Arcy Short (Western Australia)
The belligerent left-hander probably is in direct competition with Lynn for a World Cup spot, particularly if the banned pair of Steve Smith and David Warner return for that tournament, which I expect they will.
Short has played 13 limited overs matches for Australia this year and has been impressive in T20Is, crunching 377 runs at 42 in the shortest format.
He opened in the first two of his three ODIs, making 21 and 15 in England, before scoring 47 not out from number seven in his most recent ODI. Short is expected to open for WA in the JLT Cup and his best chance of a World Cup berth is at the top of the order, where he can take on the quicks in the Powerplay.
Short is coming off a very good one day quadrangular series for Australia A in India, where he made 136 runs at 45, with a strike rate of 94 as an opener.
JLT Cup squads
NSW: Peter Nevill (C), Sean Abbott, Harry Conway, Trent Copeland, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, Ryan Gibson, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Stephen O’Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Daniel Sams, Jason Sangha
Queensland: Chris Lynn (C), Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant, Joe Burns, Luke Feldman, Sam Heazlett, Charlie Hemphrey, Lachlan Pfeffer, Jack Prestwidge, Billy Stanlake, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Sam Truloff, Jack Wildermuth
South Australia: Jake Lehmann (C), Alex Carey, Tom Cooper, Callum Ferguson, Spencer Johnson, Joe Mennie, Harry Nielsen, Kane Richardson, Alex Ross, Chadd Sayers, Cameron Valente, Jake Weatherald, Daniel Worrall, Adam Zampa
Tasmania: George Bailey (C), Jackson Bird, Nicholas Buchanan, Jake Doran, James Faulkner, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Simon Milenko, Tom Rogers, Clive Rose, Jordan Silk, Aaron Summers, Matthew Wade, Beau Webster
Victoria: Peter Handscomb (C), Scott Boland, Jackson Coleman, Travis Dean, Sebastian Gotch, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Tom O’Connell, Matt Short, Will Sutherland, Chris Tremain, Cameron White
Western Australia: Ashton Turner (C), Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Cameron Green, Josh Inglis, Matt Kelly, Joel Paris, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Jonathan Wells