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Forget the 'big four', Sayers targets Ashes

19 April 2017

Sayers took 62 wickets last Shield season - the third-most in the competition's history // Getty

Fresh off a 62-wicket seasons, the Sheffield Shield Player of the Year wants to finally claim an elusive Baggy Green

With all the talk focusing on Australia's 'fearsome four' speedsters ahead of next summer's Ashes, Sheffield Shield Player of the Year Chadd Sayers is already looming as somewhat of a forgotten man.

The combination of James Pattinson's spectacular return to first-class cricket with Victoria and his continued strong form with Nottinghamshire, and Pat Cummins' impressive re-entry to Test cricket, has Australian fans salivating at the prospect of one or both of that duo joining Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc in the Test XI.

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But Sayers, who was top of the Shield wicket-takers pile with an incredible 62 scalps – the third highest of all time – has his sights firmly set on at last claiming a Baggy Green when the Ashes gets underway from November 23 in Brisbane.

"I have been talked about touring the UK in 2019, which is in the back of my head, but I want to play in this upcoming Ashes," the Redbacks seamer told cricbuzz.

"It will be about performing well in the Sheffield Shield and seeing what happens from there."

Watch all of Chadd Sayers' 62 Shield wickets

Sayers took eight wickets in the Shield final including a first-innings haul of 7-84 against a Victoria team brimming with talent; six of his eight victims had played international cricket and the other – opener Marcus Harris (twice) – was Victoria's leading Shield run-scorer this season.

Throughout the campaign, the 29-year-old was one of only two specialist quicks (Tasmania's Simon Milenko being the other) to have played in every Shield game for his side, and his 446.2 overs were 95 more than the next most by a fast bowler.

The right-armer has hovered on the precipice of a long-awaited Test call-up for more than 12 months now.

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He was part of Australia's squad in New Zealand in February 2016 and then again for the Tests in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne last summer, only to be touched out for the third seamer's spot by Jackson Bird on all three occasions.

"Rumours were going around and I thought I was in line (for selection)," Sayers added. "It was a flip of a coin decision and selectors went with Bird, who is a very good bowler and performed well. That's sport.

"I think my improvement and strong season was mainly due to having my first injury free pre-season, so I was coming into the season off a really strong base."

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And while many fast bowlers will point to an increase in pace as being the fundamental factor in any perceived improvement, Sayers is comfortable playing to his strengths.

"I've often been told that I'm not good enough because I don't bowl quick and I don't have the height," he said. "It does make me want to be even more successful to prove a point and chuck it back at (critics') faces.

"Glenn McGrath was a favourite of mine and the best at what he did even though he didn't have express pace.

"Because I don't have the pace, I knew I had to focus on line and length hitting good areas because if you don't then you will get punished in first-class cricket."

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