After a disappointing season in 2022/23, Tasmania said goodbye to three of their most decorated imports, with Ben McDermott, Peter Siddle and all-time Sheffield Shield leading wicket-taker Jackson Bird departing the Apple Isle to return to their home states. Former Australian Test skipper Tim Paine also announced his retirement.
These departures pose the big question; who will step up to the plate in their absence?
The Tigers won’t be satisfied with their efforts last season, winning just two matches in the Shield and despite winning their first two matches of the One Day Cup, failed to win a game for the rest of the competition. With head coach Jeff Vaughan facing a tough task in galvanising his side in the wake of some big off-season departures, let’s take a closer look at Tasmania’s squad for the 2022/23 season.
Sheffield Shield: 5th on ladder (2 wins, 4 draws, 4 losses)
Caleb Jewell (652 runs at 38.35)
Beau Webster (596 runs at 42.57)
Tim Ward (517 runs at 30.41)
Jackson Bird (31 wickets at 25.96)
Peter Siddle (24 wickets at 25.58)
Jarrod Freeman (22 wickets at 45.81)
One-Day Cup: 6th on ladder (2 wins, 5 losses)
Jake Doran (335 runs at 83.75)
Caleb Jewell (317 runs at 52.83)
Ben McDermott (176 runs at 25.14)
Tom Rogers (20 wickets at 17.00)
Riley Meredith (10 wickets at 29.80)
Nathan Ellis (9 wickets at 27.44)
Tasmania 2023-24 Squad
Gabe Bell, Iain Carlisle, Paddy Dooley, Jake Doran, Nathan Ellis, Jarrod Freeman, Brad Hope, Caleb Jewell, Riley Meredith, Lawrence Neil-Smith, Mitch Owen, Sam Rainbird, Jordan Silk, Billy Stanlake, Matthew Wade, Charlie Wakim, Tim Ward, Jake Weatherald, Beau Webster, Mac Wright
Rookies: Nick Davis, Nivethan Radhakrishnan
*Cricket Australia contract
Ins and Outs
Ins: Paddy Dooley, Jake Weatherald (South Australia)
Outs: Tom Andrews, Jackson Bird (NSW), Ben McDermott (Queensland), Peter Siddle (Victoria)
Tassie’s 2023/24 squad will have a much different look to previous seasons, with Jackson Bird, Ben McDermott and Peter Siddle opting to return to their home states. Despite being born in New South Wales, Bird has never represented the Blues and took the opportunity to return, while Siddle returns to Victoria having been a reliable contributor for during his three seasons for Tassie.
McDermott departs following a frustrating 2022/23 campaign that saw the keeper-batter falling off of the national selector’s radar last season and even saw him dropped from the side at one stage.
All-rounder Tom Andrews has been delisted, with the Tigers signing spinner Paddy Dooley to his first domestic contract after plying his trade in Queensland Premier Cricket in recent years. Opener Jake Weatherald was the Tigers’ only other signing, with the former South Australian batter leaving in search of a new environment, following a hiatus from cricket to focus on his mental health in the second half of last season.
Batters: Caleb Jewell, Jordan Silk, Charlie Wakim, Tim Ward, Jake Weatherald, Mac Wright
Wicket-Keepers: Jake Doran, Matthew Wade
All-Rounders: Brad Hope, Mitch Owen, Beau Webster, Nick Davis, Nivethan Radhakrishnan
Fast Bowlers: Gabe Bell, Iain Carlisle, Nathan Ellis, Riley Meredith, Lawrence Neil-Smith, Sam Rainbird, Billy Stanlake, Tom Rogers (Uncontracted)
Spinners: Jarrod Freeman
The Tigers batting lineup is spearheaded by Caleb Jewell, who has taken his game to another level in the last couple of years, finishing top three in the Sheffield Shield run-scoring last season and also recently impressing for Australia A in their series against New Zealand.
Although Jewell and Tim Ward have established themselves as a solid opening pair in Shield cricket, the arrival of Jake Weatherald may complicate things at the top of the order. Jake Doran was elevated to number three last season as a specialist batter but may drop back down the order as he appears set to take the gloves following Paine’s retirement.
If they want to incorporate Weatherald into the side, it could mean shifting Ward to first drop, while 32-year-old Charlie Wakim is another option the Tigers will consider after finishing last season as the leading scorer in the second XI competition with 575 runs at 52.77. Taking the reigns as captain at the in 2022, Jordan Silk enjoyed a productive season after reinventing himself as a middle-order batsman in Shield cricket, a role in which he has excelled at in limited-overs cricket for several years.
Mac Wright is a name many casual fans may not be familiar with but is a player who seems to impress every time he is given an opportunity at domestic level and could be set to gain a permanent spot in the side with McDermott departing.
It was initially reported that Matthew Wade would join the list of big names departing the Tigers squad, but has chosen to continue as a contracted player, and will provide valuable leadership to the squad, even if he isn’t a mainstay in the side this season. Beau Webster reaffirmed his case as the most underrated player in Shield cricket last season, adding 19 wickets to his 596 runs.
Webster’s record is even more impressive when you consider the fact he was predominantly batting at number 7, while his newly-acquired skill of medium-pace bowling continues to go from strength to strength. The Tigers clearly see great potential in all-rounder Mitch Owen, who will likely be given more opportunity this season, with the 22-year-old continuing to develop.
The fast bowling department is where Tasmania has the most holes to plug, with their two leading wicket-takers in Shield from last season no longer in the squad. Riley Meredith will likely become the main strike bowler, but others will need to step up to ensure he is not shouldering too much of the load.
Gabe Bell has been a quiet achiever over his Shield career and is a name the Tigers will likely call upon, with left-armer Sam Rainbird also in a similar boat. It’s unclear whether Nathan Ellis will play any longer-form cricket this season, with the talented right-armer only re-signing with Tasmania on the condition that he would be allowed to play in franchise T20 competitions if the opportunity presents itself.
Billy Stanlake is essentially a new recruit after spending his maiden campaign with the Tigers on the sidelines and could provide some x-factor to the bowling attack as he looks to get more Shield matches under his belt. Lawrence Neil-Smith has represented Tasmania a handful of times in recent seasons with varying success and will need to develop consistency if he is to gain a regular place in the side.
Although it seems Tassie will struggle to take wickets in the Shield, their fast-bowling unit in 50-over cricket appears quite strong with Meredith, Ellis and Tom Rogers leading the attack. Canberra-born Rogers was a surprise package last season, finishing as the leading wicket-taker in the One Day Cup despite the side finishing last. Rogers will go into this season uncontracted as he did last season but has the opportunity to earn a contract if he plays enough matches.
The trio will be aided by Paddy Dooley’s arrival, with the Hobart Hurricanes cult hero set to play a role in the One Day Cup after securing his first contract, with his crafty leg-spin making him tricky for opposition batters to deal with. Off-spinner Jarrod Freeman had a breakout season last year with 22 wickets in the Shield while also managing 288 runs with the bat, and will likely be the main spinner in the longer format once again.
Jordan Silk (c)
Jake Doran (wk)
Jake Doran (wk)
Jordan Silk (c)
How They’ll Go
After a below-par 2022/23 campaign, it’s hard to see Tasmania making any significant improvements this season given what they’ve lost. Their top 7 is quite talented on paper, but there isn’t much depth in the squad if injuries or poor form hit their main players. With the ball, they have a lot of solid contributors but will likely have periods throughout the season where they struggle to take wickets. This season looms as a tough one for Tasmania as they enter a rebuilding phase.
Shield Prediction: 6th
One-Day Cup Prediction: 5th