The Sheffield Shield resumes this weekend, with cricketers quickly switching out of Twenty20 mode to ply their trade in the longer form of red-ball cricket.
After day one of the Victoria vs New South Wales match, Nic Maddinson shines on the scorecard once more with a strong knock of 95. Despite throwing his wicket away to Steve O’Keefe when tantalisingly close to another first-class ton, his impressive innings is just another decent score in an impressive season and a half.
Yet, when Australia struggle to lock down an opening partner for Dave Warner after Joe Burns’ up and down summer and past Ashes struggles from Cam Bancroft and Marcus Harris, Maddinson gets remarkably little attention. All because his one international go at the Test level was brutally ruined by a searing yorker from one of the best pacemen in the world (Kagiso Rabada) and some blistering South African bowling.
Sure, he definitely deserved to be dropped, but unlike players such as Pete Handscomb, Maddinson has worked on his game and improved his top order first-class batting out of sight.
Since making the change to Victoria from New South Wales, Maddinson has struck 1,106 runs at an average of 73.73. Definitely a hell of a better tally than what Burns, Harris and Bancroft have managed to whip up. Maddinson only played half of the 2018-19 season, yet hit 563 runs at 70.38. While Aaron Finch and Harris struggled throughout the summer, Maddinson got no mention.
Selectors could only vividly remember that Rabada yorker that sent Maddinson off for a duck in his first Test innings.
His 2019-20 campaign after today sees him with 543 runs at an average of 77.57, with a top score of 224. Sure, that knock was on a road as flat as a tack down at the Junction Oval, but since then he has gone on to consistently post runs at the top order of a Victorian line up that has struggled a lot more than prior seasons.
He’s made his runs while at the coalface – in the top three. His 95 yesterday proved that; against a swinging Dukes ball and facing the likes of Trent Copeland, Harry Conway, Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe, he clicked along at a great strike rate and looked as solid as a rock. Unlike his time at New South Wales, it’s clear he has worked diligently on his red-ball batting and left his white-ball slogging behind. The results definitely show – he’s one of the leading top order batsman in the past two seasons of the Marsh Shield.
His runs also come at a time where the opening position is the most vulnerable one in the Aussie batting line up. With Travis Head solidifying his spot with that Boxing Day ton, Joe Burns is the one in trouble. But Harris and Bancroft haven’t grabbed their spots, even Matt Renshaw has lost his position in the Queensland team. Maddinson is the only one putting his hand up, yet he has received little to no attention.
I’m not saying that Maddinson should be in the Australian team. He just deserves more recognition. Perhaps selection in the Australian A team, a nod from the selectors that he is inching closer. Maybe even a change in the pecking order, a signal that Maddinson is the one next in line putting the pressure on Burns.
If Burns has another meagre series, and Maddinson continues to finish off the Shield season with aplomb and a swag of runs, the heat should well and truly be on. But it seems like there’s too many people in positions of power who can only remember that Rabada dismissal.