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INDIA V AUSTRALIA T20S

Born-again Christian rises once more

24 August 2017

A solid IPL campaign has helped earn Christian an international recall // Getty Images

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Allrounder rewarded for IPL impact with recall to national side for the first time since 2014

@martinsmith9994
@martinsmith9994

Martin Smith is a writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.

At 34, Dan Christian - in his own words - thought his race had been run when it came to international cricket.

An ODI hat-trick and three T20 World Cup campaigns had been the highlights of his occasional stints at the top level between 2010 and 2014, while 12th man duties in the 2011 Hobart Test was as close as he'd come to being just the second Indigenous man to pull on a Baggy Green cap.

2012: Dan Christian's Hat-Trick Against Sri Lanka

It was a career to be proud of but, again in Christian's own words, one that had been "unfulfilled".

But when his phone buzzed in the dead of a UK night last week, bringing news of his recall to Australia's T20 squad for their upcoming tour of India, Christian was born again.

Quick Single: Veterans, young guns named in T20 squad

In his third season with the ominously named Notts Outlaws, Christian was sound asleep when selector Mark Waugh called to announce the end of his three-and-a-half-year international exile.

Which, among numerous highlights, had featured a treble of Sheffield Shield titles with Victoria, a headline-grabbing bomb onto the roof of The Gabba in the KFC Big Bash League, and a few contentious public utterances about the state of Australian cricket.

Some great yarns about a massive six

Having outwardly expressed his frustration at what he believes has been a youth bias with the selection of national teams, Christian's recall is a chance to both finish what he started at the top level as well personally test his belief that younger is not necessarily always better.

"I have been a little bit vocal in the past about older guys and how you’re at your best when you're a little bit older, especially if you're fit," Christian told cricket.com.au this week.


"So it's nice to have the opportunity again because I think I'm a much better cricketer now than what I was when I actually played for Australia. And I reckon most guys around my age would say the same thing.

"If your body is fit and firing, you're a more experienced cricketer and you should be able to draw on those experiences a little bit more than you could five or six years earlier.

Christian was one of Hobart's better performers in BBL|06 // Getty

"Coming across situations in games, more often than not you've been in them before. You draw on what you did well there and what you did poorly and try to do whatever you need to win a game."

Christian is quick to add that his reservations about youth being preferred over experience does not apply to the national T20 side that he and Tim Paine (32) have just re-joined.

Christian's last stint in the national set-up came alongside Bradleys Hogg (43) and Hodge (39) at the 2014 World T20, while Michael Klinger's successful T20 debut at 36 earlier this year was another win for the 30-plus brigade.

But the allrounder can point to the recent upswing in his own career as validation for his theory that players get better with age; his batting and bowling averages at both first-class and 50-over level have all improved since he turned 30, while his fourth Indian Premier League campaign earlier this year was his best and most productive so far.

Christian has been a consistent performer for Victoria in Shield cricket // Getty

A highest score of 17 and best bowling figures of 2-10 don't even come close to explaining his impact for the Rising Pune Supergiant, the tournament runners-up for whom he played all but three of 16 games as one of four overseas players in their XI alongside his national captain Steve Smith.

A score of 16 from just six balls here, a wicket or two there; Christian's role as the team's Mr Fix-it was such that, when asked to name the highlights of his campaign, he listed watching from the non-striker's end as Ben Stokes completed a match-winning century ahead of any personal contribution.

It was a breakout campaign in a competition where, as a 27-year-old in 2011, he had been sold for an eye-watering sum of $900,000 USD and subsequently struggled to handle the criticism when his performances didn't always match his price tag.

His decision to enter this year's player auction, more in hope than any certainty he'd be picked up after a three-year absence, has helped him re-launch an international career that, while unfulfilled, he had been happy to leave in the past.

Christian played 13 of 16 games for RPS in the IPL // Getty

"I was pretty content with how everything was going, particularly at the Vics having won the past three Shields, which has been fantastic," he says.

"But there was a little bit of hope there based on how the IPL went.

"And I knew coming before the Ashes with the boys having a fair bit of cricket on, there might be a chance they might rest a few blokes as well (for the India tour).

"I thought my race was run (at international level) and having a decent IPL has just probably re-opened that door a little bit."

And that door could swing wide open when he returns to India a month from now.