D’arcy Short is a belter, a dasher, a Davey Warner clone.
He’s a little ripper; pure of technique, the eye of a cold dead fish, his bat equal parts scimitar and scalpel.
Let him to free his arms and the umpires will follow, upwards, devil horns in the sky.
And yet like Warner once was, Short’s been pigeon-holed as a short-form specialist. And like Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch, Short’s greater game looks as if it could transcend T20 into first-class – or what we “purists” would call “real” – cricket.
He’s also really good to watch. Or would be if he could get a go. More on it later.
For now we’ll rejoice in his 257 runs from 148 balls in a one-day game, Western Australia vs Queensland, at Sydney’s Hurstville Oval. How about that for some happy whack action?
Cricket Australia has every one of his twenty-three (23) sixes online. And you could Google them up if you’re of a mind and see a batter with tidy, aesthetically-pleasing technique top-edging cuts for six. As Doug Walters said of his highest score, 250, hungover against New Zealand, it was “my worst double century”.
Yet in our digital age, such big-whacking feats are hard currency. Short has since played for Rajasthan Royals, Hobart Hurricanes and Australia in 18 T20 internationals and four ODIs – all in the last two years.
This journo went out to a T20i at the SCG last year to watch him, just him, and he belted big Bhuvneshwar Kumar around like he was Tony Dodemaide without the movement, or pace, or ability of any kind.
With the majority crowd of Indians burbling and warbling, Kumar bowled tidy, skidding heat. First ball, Short worked him out of his ribs through midwicket.
Next one he destroyed – boom! Crack. Opera. And the press corp in the box muttered as one: “Shot”. It was a square drive. All timing and power. A beautiful bit of kit.
(Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
And Short was away.
There was a straight drive to midnight, head-high, an umpire killer.
There was a back cut off his hip, pure, whistling away.
A full toss outside off – filth – was punished for four.
A short arm jab and a couple more cuts, and it became clear you don’t give the man width.
Short’s batting is all short pick-up, quick hands and a keen eye. And whack – the ball races pure, middle of the bat, away.
And after six overs of PowerPlay, Australia were 0-49 with Finch on 21 (17 balls) and Short 24 (19).
Not quite gangbusters. But smokin’.
And then, because you’re cynical, even dissident about T20 and this New World Order, you sought to qualify it.
‘The wicket is flat. It’s a super-highway, an IPL wicket. Australia bowling coach David Saker touched it once and declared a tough night for pacers. It’s an indoor net deck: see ball, hit ball – doesn’t matter how fast it’s going, there’ll be no surprises.’
Top of that, India fielded like Dad’s army from the olden days. Finch was dropped. The run rate nudged 9. Looked like you could fill your boots with gold.
And then: Kryptonite – India brought on their spinners.
And the worm turned.
Finch top-edged. Maxwell was fired out LBW but Short urged review – for success!
Almost immediately Short was given LBW – Maxwell returned the favour – review.
We had a look. And it looked bad. Because it was bad. And Darcy was on his bike.
Short’s 33 off 28 balls top-scored for Australia in their six-wicket loss to the master-blasters of India who made the wicket look like Curtin South concrete.
But the brief look at Short was telling: you can see a batter in there. Aesthetically, he looks good.
In his eyes, the window to the soul, he looks like he belongs – or believes he does, same thing.
Top spinners slowed him down that night at the SCG just as Dale Steyn nicked him out in Perth.
What Jimmy Anderson could conjure under woolly skies at Edgbaston does not warrant thinking about given the wafty left-handers in the Australian top-6, another story.
But Short clearly has game.
And so here he is, aged 28, and playing international cricket for a year and first-class cricket for two years.
(GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images)
His career has been a slow burn, a learning curve, then fireworks – record runs in BBL, three-quarter mill sale to Rajasthan Royals.
But he’s been around ten minutes.
We can forget this and be hard on our sports folk. We can demand instant success.
Yet so much is luck.
Had Short missed Steyn’s out-swinger or bottom-edged the LBW, posted 60-odd, even a ton, the papers would be telling you how good he is.
Which he is – getting out doesn’t make him bad.
And yet runs are all. And here we are. Wondering…does Short need to play long-form cricket? Couple hot seasons in the IPL and he’s a mega-star setup for life.
Fortunately for Australia, Short wants to play for Australia in Test cricket. Indeed all forms, all the time.
And he’ll do all he can to do it – if he ever gets the chance.
For how can he play much less excel at red ball cricket – and win an Ashes touring spot much less a Test cap – if he’s never playing red ball cricket?
He played a four-day game for the WACAs in December. Since then, ten T20s. And he’s been smokin’. But it’s not an audition for a Test cap.
The audition for Ashes spots happened over six Tests against India and Sri Lanka. If you were lucky you didn’t get picked against India. If you were lucky you got a guernsey against Sri Lanka and filled you boots and suitcase.
Despite all the hundreds against Sri Lanka, there are six pretty hot spots in said Aussie top-six.
When will Short get the chance to add his name to the list of wannabes? County cricket? He’s a good show for the World Cup.
Short’s goals remains to play for Australia as often as he can.
He wants to play Test cricket.
But like Glenn Maxwell, he seems half-cursed with white ball ability.
All he can do is take the games he gets, and make runs, whatever format. Context can be lost for a dasher.
But given Finch’s chances in white clothes at the top of the order, Short still reckons runs at short-form level can count towards red ball honours.
Hope so. I like him. Like how he plays.
But as Marge Simpson has often said to Homer: “Hmmmmmmmmmm.”