His BBL coach Greg Shipperd believes the allrounder could fill one of the troublesome middle-order spots
Thirty-eight-year-old Christian, who last played for Australia in 2017, was one of six players added to the large preliminary squad ahead of the tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh with the expectation that a number of those involved in the IPL will make themselves unavailable for the trip.
“It’s a unique format of the game and he’s got a unique skillset as a strong finisher through the middle and at the back-end with the bat, he’s got the capability to bowl a couple of intelligent, player-specific overs right across the three phases with the ball,” Shipperd said on the day he signed a two-year extension as the Sixers coach which takes him to the end of the 2023-24 season.
“He’s a super fieldsman but there’s also a wealth of cricketing strategy and knowledge that resides in his brain and he’s a real giver in any team he’s involved with. If you’re going into a specific tournament, they’ve got a couple of World Cups coming up, he’s a strong choice. He’s in form, he’s fit and strong, he’s got a lot of positives going for him. I hope he gets game time and performs really well and gets an opportunity to play in the World Cup.”
Christian, these days a freelancing T20 specialist, was also at the IPL before it was suspended but headed to England to take up his deal with Nottinghamshire for the T20 Blast which he has now withdrawn from to undertake a two-week quarantine back in Australia ahead of leaving for the West Indies.
He has previously spoken of not giving up hope of adding to his 16 T20I caps despite the lengthy time since his last selection having enjoyed an impressive 2020-21 BBL season for the title-winning Sixers after moving from the Melbourne Renegades who he also helped to the title in 2018-19.
If he makes it into the final XI on the upcoming tours it would be in one of the middle-order positions that has proved troublesome for Australia to fill as they try to balance their T20I side.
In last season’s BBL he made 272 runs at 34.00 with a strike rate of 182.55 which included a 16-ball 50 against the Adelaide Strikers and an unbeaten 61 off 38 balls to guide a chase against Brisbane Heat. Though he was less prolific in the first part of the PSL and IPL before each was suspended, Shipperd lauded the clarity he can bring to tough game situations, going as far as to say it “blows my mind” that he can often do it while on the player microphone.
“It is indeed a very specialist role and it’s about calmness and clarity in the moment. And being fearless,” he said. “He’s at the stage of his career where he’s using his experience wisely and he’s not playing for the next year or next major contract, he plays with this fearless but experienced mindset that allows him to take the best option.
“It’s rare for a player to be mic-ed up as he often is in those phases and be taking the commentators and viewers through what he’s thinking and doing. As a coach that blows my mind so just shows the poise he has and he’s using his experience well.”
Shipperd picked out Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Marsh, Daniel Sams and Sean Abbott – the latter facing a significant recovery period after a hamstring injury playing for Surrey – as other candidates for the Australia middle order but the depth of Christian’s CV holds him in good stead.
“A lot of other players haven’t been in those moments and dealt with that pressure, made the call, succeeded and failed,” he said. “He balances those yo-yos that this form of the game throws at you particularly well. He presents as such a valuable player for a tournament. I would be pushing and promoting him competing strongly for one of those positions.”
Australia’s large preliminary squad, which currently numbers 29, will be trimmed to around 19 before the team leaves at the end of June. The West Indies tour includes five ODIs and three ODIs followed by five more T20Is in Bangladesh although dates for those matches are yet to be confirmed.
In terms of their final build-up to the T20 World Cup in October – which is expected to be moved from India to the UAE – there will then be the question of whether players will be able to return to the IPL which is due to resume in mid-September in the UAE.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Royal London Cup 2021 – Shreyas Iyer ruled out of Lancashire county stint
India batter continuing his recovery from shoulder injury suffered in March
It has since been decided, following discussions between Lancashire and the BCCI, that Iyer will remain in India to continue rehab ahead of his planned return to cricket.
“We are obviously very disappointed, as we were thoroughly looking forward to welcoming Shreyas to Emirates Old Trafford,” Lancashire’s director of cricket, Paul Allott, said. “Ultimately Shreyas’ long-term fitness is of paramount importance and Lancashire Cricket fully respects the decision.
“We wish Shreyas all the best with the remainder of his recovery, and from the conversations, which I have had with the player, believe that this is an arrangement he would be keen to revisit again in the future.”
Iyer, 26, has played 51 times in limited-overs internationals for his country. He missed the truncated 2021 IPL after suffering a partial dislocation of his left shoulder in the field during the first ODI against England in Pune.
Iyer said: “I am gutted to not be able to play for Lancashire this summer, a club that has such history and ambition. I hope to play at Emirates Old Trafford for Lancashire at some point in the future.”
England vs Pakistan 2021 – Matt Parkinson ‘gutted’ to be left out of England’s white-ball squads at start of summer
Legspinner hopes performances against Pakistan prove he can play alongside Adil Rashid at T20 World Cup
Parkinson was overlooked for the T20I and ODI series against Sri Lanka last month, with Liam Dawson preferred as England’s third spin option. Eoin Morgan, their limited-overs captain, explained at the time that Dawson’s versatility and his ability to bowl in the powerplay had been key factors in him earning selection, but Parkinson admitted that he was so disappointed about his omission that he had not asked for any feedback.
“Obviously I was gutted,” he said on Monday. “I didn’t ask for any feedback – I was sort of hoping it was about letting me play a bit in the Blast, and not come and carry drinks. That was how I tried to look at it. Sometimes if you look at things too closely, you can get down very easily, and I think I probably used it as momentum to performance for Lancashire.
“It’s funny how cricket works. A month ago, I probably would never have thought I’d have played for England this summer, so to have played for the past two weeks have been great – if you’d told me two weeks ago I’d have played five internationals for England this summer and taken some wickets I’d have probably laughed at you. I think the reason I’ve done well is because I tried to use it as a bonus. I didn’t really have this on my radar.”
“I’m used to playing with spinners at Lancs – it’s a philosophy we use there,” he said. “We bowl spin through the middle and to do that with England yesterday was awesome. A lot gets highlighted about how slowly I bowl – [Rashid] bowls faster than me, he uses his googly more than me. I think we are different and I think that’s why yesterday worked so well: from each end it was different and they couldn’t just line up one of us.
“Moving forward, I would love to play with Rash. I don’t think it’s always feasible, but I’d like to think the performances I’ve put in this week will only aid us going forward. The best thing about yesterday was the pressure we had on them: all three spinners didn’t really bowl a bad ball, and I think it was 11 overs, 5 for 80-odd  and that only got ruined at the end by some slogging.
“To have that bowling at the other end is great, and probably pushes me on as well. I think, ‘Rash has bowled a great over, and I need to bowl well here as well’. Hopefully I’ve performed well enough for England to consider playing two legspinners again. I know Rash is number one and an absolute gun bowler – probably the best spinner in the world – but I’d like to think this week has helped me push my case forward.”
After a bright start in Friday’s first T20I at Trent Bridge, Parkinson conceded 36 runs in his final two overs to end with 0 for 47 as Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan targeted the short midwicket boundary. He stuck to his strengths at Headingley, tossing the ball up and focusing on flight and drift rather than the speed gun, which has been a concern for him in the past (he is among the slowest bowlers recorded in international cricket).
“Trent Bridge is a tough place to bowl – you need wickets early really to stem the flow,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I relaxed a bit but I thought I could search for a wicket, got full and that’s when I got banged into the stands. That was a good learner and I used it at Headingley.
“In the past I’ve probably thought about [speed] too much. In South Africa [in early 2020] there was a lot written about it and I probably let that affect me – looking up at the board a lot, trying to see if I could push 47mph/76kph.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Alex Davies to trade Lancashire for Warwickshire at season’s end
Wicketkeeper-batter says time is right for “new challenge” as he seeks England honours
Wicketkeeper-batter Davies, who linked up with Southern Brave on Monday ahead of The Hundred, said he saw the move as a chance to press for England selection and that it was the right time “to look for a new challenge”.
“Warwickshire are a massive club with a proud tradition of winning,” Davies said. “The Bears squad have potential to win trophies and I want to contribute to future success. At the same time, I remain totally committed to my ambition to play cricket for England and I believe that Warwickshire can help me do that. I have loved my time at Old Trafford and am now looking forward to an exciting next chapter in my journey.”
Davies made his first-team debut in 2011, going on to become the first Lancashire keeper to score 1,000 first-class runs in 2017. He has made 90 appearances in red-ball cricket, scoring 4,682 runs at an average of 36.57 and he has 170 catches and 16 stumpings.
Davies has also excelled in white-ball games as part of the Lancashire Lightning side that won the 2015 Blast. In T20s, he averages 27.40 with 42 catches and 10 stumpings and, in List A, he has made 1,380 runs at 32.08, with 48 catches and 11 stumpings.
Paul Farbrace, Warwickshire’s director of cricket, described Davies’ signing as “huge” for the county.
“Alex has firmly established himself as one of the best wicketkeeper-batters in the domestic game and he knows what it takes to win,” Farbrace said. “In the red-ball game Alex has broken Lancashire records, whilst in white-ball cricket he bats with a fearless approach that can change the course of games.
“To have a player of his calibre want to join Warwickshire with an ambition to win trophies and push for international selection is a fantastic boost to everyone connected with the club. Aged only 26, we believe that Alex’s best years are ahead of him and we’re committed to giving him the best platform possible to push for a place in the England team across all formats.”
Paul Allott, Farbrace’s counterpart at Lancashire, said: “We are sad to see Alex leave Lancashire, but respect his decision to move on. On behalf of everybody at the club, I would like to thank Alex for his commitment and efforts during his time at Emirates Old Trafford and wish him well for the next stage of his career.”
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