“They’ve picked the wrong Richardson,” has become a common dig at Kane Richardson from Aussie fans as he’s been selected ahead of namesake Jhye.
Now, however, the South Australian swing bowler is starting to flourish in limited-overs internationals, after initially looking out of his depth.
Comfortably Australia’s best bowler in their last T20 against South Africa, with 2-21 from four overs, Kane has built nice form in both white-ball formats.
Since the start of the Aussie summer he has played eight T20s and taken ten wickets at 19, with a sensational economy rate of 6.51.
He’s been so frugal that only once in those eight matches has he conceded more than 6.7 runs per over.
What makes that rate particularly good is that he regularly bowls at the death. It is this skill in blanketing batsmen in the dying overs that seemed to launch Kane into Australia’s T20 side.
Now he has a firm grip on that position, with the T20 World Cup less than eight months away.
As a defensive quick, Kane fits well into a unit that has two attacking fast bowlers, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, and an in-form spin duo in Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa. For now, at least, the Aussie attack is balanced and Kane is a key element.
Meanwhile, in ODIs, Kane is also starting to cement his spot in Australia’s core squad of players. From his last dozen matches he has taken 24 wickets at 26, despite all of those games being played away from home.
In that period, he has adapted to a range of different conditions, performing solidly in India, the UAE, and England.
I must admit to having long been underwhelmed by Kane. He wasn’t overly quick or especially accurate or particularly penetrative. It wasn’t that I considered him a poor bowler, he just looked like a solid domestic player, rather than an international cricketer.
Certainly, I had the other, younger Richardson way ahead of him in the pecking order for all three national sides.
Jhye is equally accurate and swing-proficient, but has greater pace and is a more natural wicket-taker.
Unlike Kane, who was wobbly in his early matches for Australia, Jhye quickly looked at ease in international cricket. So much so that the 23-year-old West Australian shaped as a trump card in the 2019 World Cup and Ashes after a stunning start to the year.
Jhye took 17 wickets at 21 from his eight ODIs early last year and was awesome against the powerful Indian team.
Nothing underlined his quality better than his generous success against the world’s best ODI batsman, Virat Kohli. In his six ODIs against India, Jhye bowled 58 balls to Kohli for the amazing figures of 4-38.
As Jhye shone in India last year, even the home commentators were gushing over him.
Having made a fine start to his Test career, Jhye was shaping as a potential all-format star – he still is.
But then his run to the 2019 World Cup and Ashes was derailed by a serious shoulder injury he suffered while fielding in the UAE last March.
That mishap opened the door for Kane, who came into Australia’s ODIs starting XI for the last two matches of that series against Pakistan.
He has since performed well enough to keep Jhye out of the Aussie 50-over squad.
In the three-match ODI series in South Africa, which starts this Saturday, Kane looks set to compete with Josh Hazlewood for the third quick spot, supporting Starc and Cummins.
Meanwhile, in T20s, Kane has a chance in tomorrow’s series decider in Cape Town to lock down his starting positon as Australia build towards a home World Cup in October.
In a short space of time he has come a long way.