19 March 2018 08:17 AM



Richardson’s Surprise Inclusion in Australia Team Squad Might Prove Exhilirating

“I think I’ll be able to get the job done.”

“You always want to prove people wrong and I think that’s been my attitude from the start. If someone is going to beat me down, why not prove them wrong. There’s going to be a lot of people that put me down for not having the experience at this sort of level but if I can go in being as confident as I am right now I think I’ll be able to get the job done.”

Jhye Richardson’s words make you think. It makes you sit back and ponder at the impact that a carefree and nonchalant attitude can have in a highly competitive world, where unfairness and injustice runs forth. It amazes you. It befuddles you. You realise that there hardly is a substitute for hard work and that self-confidence is the sole trait that will guide you ahead, even when the world around you discourages you and doubts your skills.

Welcome to the world of the 21-year-old Western Australian bowler, who just has five first-class games against his name. Upon first glance, the frail 178 cms bowler, weighing a little more than 70 kilograms, would give hints of being a shy cricketer intimidated by the tough cricketing world around him. Even his records- 21 wickets at an average of almost 30, hardly intimidate and one would not be chastised for passing off this bowler as one of the many cricketers in the lower rungs, hoping to cement a place in the national squad.

But, when former Australian spearhead Mitchell Johnson himself congratulated his Western Australian team-mate on making his debut in the Sheffield Shield, you know this is no ordinary player. When Steven Smith remained impressed with his movement and pace, thus giving him an unexpected debut against England last week, you know that he is special. And when he pushed Sheffield Shield Player of the Year Chadd Sayers out of contention for a spot in the Test team to South Africa, you know he is one for the future.

From having made the switch to fast-bowling from spin in an era where the nation’s pacers were no less than 195 cms in height, Richardson’s inability to tower over his opponents rattled his coaches. They knew that the route to recovery in case of an injury would be tougher for his comparatively shorter body but over time, his aggression and his never-say-die attitude set him apart from others. Equipped with good control and an accurate rhythm and technique, the youngster mastered the art of sending down deliveries that constantly raked the 145 kmph mark and in just five games, he was able to win over the selectors, who had a tough time evading questions over Sayers’s omission from the squad.

The 12th man at Adelaide during the Ashes match against England would have been more than a handy bowler in South Africa in the four Test match series that will be held between the two countries later this year. Protean pacer Vernon Philander’s wicket-taking abilities against the Indian cricket team would have given Sayers hopes of a similar success rate, with both bowlers relying more on swing rather than pace. Even though the trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood would be the first choice entrants in the playing eleven, Sayers’s experience, backed up with 246 wickets in 59 Sheffield Shield matches at an average of 23.56 would have proved a major boost, in case of an injury to the aforementioned bowlers.

But cricket hardly follows a set pattern. Just when you think you have come close to accomplishing your dreams, a younger player comes along and leaves the cricketing realm amazed at his potential. To be fair, the Aussies have always threatened to rile up their rivals with pace and Richardson’s entry is just following the hurried return of James Pattinson from injury in the third Test match against South Africa in 2014, but one cannot really fathom the inexplicable disappointment that must have befallen Sayers, who was not even given a call by the selectors after his axing.

From almost visualising the Baggy Green on the head to now barely seeing it in the shadows, Sayers’s journey has been unfair to say the least. But, you can either brood or you can look up ahead at the prospect of a young bowler bowling his heart out at the Wanders, later this year. Life is all about marching ahead, and Richardson’s entry promises to be an exhilarating one.