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After Australia’s tour of South Africa was scrapped earlier this 12 months, a extra entertaining and high-profile back-end of the Sheffield Defend season had been forecast.
With a bunch of worldwide gamers seemingly obtainable — a rarity inside packed trendy schedules — hopes had been excessive for the Defend’s second half.
However sadly, that hasn’t eventuated.
Flat wickets, rain and a sporadic collection of Take a look at gamers has meant Australia’s cricketing summer time post-January has been decidedly flat. This week’s conflict between Queensland and Victoria was known as off after simply 76 overs had been bowled in 4 days, as poor previous Marcus Harris couldn’t add to his well-compiled 113.
Rain additionally prevented the Vics from pushing for victory of their final match in opposition to Tasmania.
However the climate gods are solely partially responsible for the humdrum Defend season.
In latest weeks, the Gabba and WACA curators determined to serve up distinctly flat tracks that provided little for the bowlers.
Perpetually poor South Australia, who’ve received simply 4 video games within the final 4 seasons, managed to surpass 500 on the WACA floor, maybe underlining simply how uneven the competition was between bat and ball.
All six states have performed six video games apiece, however simply two (Queensland and NSW) have received a couple of recreation.
Lower than half of the season’s matches have seen a end result — in reality, there have been 5 attracts within the final six fixtures.
It’s not an inspiring statistic.
Lastly, the dearth of Australian illustration (for numerous causes) has additionally been considerably disappointing from a viewer/follower’s perspective. Will Pucovski was dominated out attributable to shoulder surgical procedure, whereas the likes of Steve Smith (elbow damage), David Warner, Pat Cummins and Tim Paine have all performed only one Defend match.
Granted, the Australian home season not often garners widespread curiosity, and even when all of the above factors had been reversed, the Defend wouldn’t be commanding again web page information.
However for rusted-on followers, it’s been a steep drop-off this summer time from the highs of the India Take a look at sequence and a really aggressive Large Bash season.
The Defend season, nonetheless, hasn’t been utterly void of highlights.
Topping the listing is Cameron Inexperienced, who has been in glowing contact since his debut Take a look at sequence earlier this summer time.
A double ton at grade degree was shortly adopted by 168 not-out in opposition to South Australia, earlier than a maiden one-day ton (144) and the pièce de résistance, a 251 on the Gabba (flat pitch however).
(Photograph by Mark Brake/Getty Photos)
What has (fairly clearly) stood out is his thirst for runs and a capability to pay attention for prolonged intervals on the crease. We’ve recognized about Inexperienced’s stroke-making capability for a while, however his threat mitigation on the crease is as spectacular.
As we noticed all through the India sequence, he’s greater than keen to take in balls early in an innings earlier than slowly pushing by the gears as he feels extra snug on the crease. It’s a priceless high quality that makes Greg Chappell’s “finest since Ponting” name appear much less overstated every century he peels off.
One other participant to impress on this back-half of the season is Travis Head, who has executed precisely what has been requested of him since being dropped from the Take a look at aspect. Head’s type differs considerably from Inexperienced’s and he performs way more aggressively a lot earlier in his innings.
However he can’t be accused of throwing his wicket away — back-to-back massive innings (223 and 142) in opposition to Western Australia had been reflective of that.
Peter Handscomb, too, has proven the shape that had Australian cricket insiders so excited when he first rose to prominence within the Take a look at staff. The Victorian skipper appears to be like a much more balanced participant on the crease of late — a sequence of on-drives in opposition to Tasmania revealing the enhancements he has made.
Handscomb should proceed his upward trajectory to launch himself again into worldwide rivalry. However similar to for Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Agar, three potential 2022 sequence in Asia might very nicely work in his favour.