Jack finds support behind enemy lines

Queensland allrounder looking forward to spotting his UK fan-base in the crowd should he earn an Aussie debut next month

Australia are bracing themselves for some heavier-than-usual treatment from parochial home crowds when they take on England in the UK next month, but Jack Wildermuth is one man who just might have local support swinging his way – in the form of a very loud minority.

The uncapped Wildermuth was the selection bolter when Australia's T20I squad was announced last week, with his performances for Melbourne Renegades last summer and his promise as a genuine allrounder enough to earn him his maiden national call-up.

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And while Nathan Lyon last week suggested the Australians would "cop it" from the English crowds, particularly in the wake of the recent ball-tampering scandal, Wildermuth has cause for optimism in the form of a rowdy group of old English mates.

"I played six months of League cricket when I was 19 at a little town called Great Harwood – just north of Manchester, between Blackburn and Burnley," the 24-year-old told cricket.com.au.

"It wasn't exactly a tourist destination but I had a great experience there, and hopefully I've got most of the club heading down to the game to support us.

"And by the sounds of it, I think we'll need it in Birmingham.

"I'm sure I'll be able to point out the guys from my team out of the whole stadium."

Toowoomba-born Valleys product Wildermuth has been talked about for higher honours for more than 12 months now, when then Test captain Steve Smith mentioned his name as a possible replacement for Mitchell Marsh during Australia's tour of India in February-March 2017.

That comment came at the tail-end of an impressive second Sheffield Shield season, while the right-armer and right-hand batsman only strengthened his resume in 2017-18 as an integral part of Queensland's title-winning group.

Throughout the summer, he was the leading allrounder on Australia's first-class domestic scene, finishing as the only player in the Shield to feature in the top 20 runs (551 at 34.43) and wickets (29 at 27.86) lists.

It was an emphatic statement to selectors, and came after he had been named for Australia A's winter tour of South Africa last year, which was ultimately cancelled due to the pay dispute.

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Wildermuth was left disappointed by the abandonment of the tour – which was shaping as an audition for a two-Test series in Bangladesh – but he has known a similar feeling before; he missed Australia's Under 19 World Cup campaign in 2012 owing to a broken toe.

"I've had a bit of bad luck trying to make the jump to the next level," he said. "But this time I'm feeling fit and I'm ready to go."

Having initially learned his trade under Bulls legend James Hopes, Wildermuth picked up some more valuable information at the Renegades in BBL|07 from West Indian Dwayne Bravo – the most prolific wicket-taker in the history of the game's shortest format – and head coach and ex-Test allrounder Andrew McDonald.

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"Knowing Dwayne and Andrew McDonald were going to be there was a huge drawcard for me in the first place," said Wildermuth of his move south from the Heat.

"And they were both good in their own ways.

"I hadn't had much to do with Andrew but he was great. He didn't know my game that well so he just let me express my game and back my abilities.

"I'm sure over the next couple of years down there I'll start to pick away at some bits and pieces from him to add to my game.

"And seeing Dwayne in action, right next to me, was really cool. He gave little bits and pieces away, during car rides to training, those sorts of things.

"But I think watching him in the moment from up close, just how he goes about his decision making under pressure – that was big for me. 

"It was a really good time for me, learning the game."

Wildermuth is scheduled to link up with Australia's touring party late next week in his home town of Brisbane, where they will convene for a three-day camp before flying to London.

There he will practice under the watchful eye of new head coach Justin Langer.

"I've been working a lot on my batting," he said. "I want to try to get myself into the top six in white-ball cricket, with Queensland and the Renegades."

Australia's lone T20I fixture in England is at Edgbaston on June 27, with the T20I tri-series in Zimbabwe beginning on July 1.

Qantas ODI Tour of England

June 7 Warm-up v Sussex, Hove (D/N)

June 9 Warm-up v Middlesex, Lord's

June 13 First ODI, The Oval (D/N)

June 16 Second ODI, Cardiff

June 19 Third ODI, Trent Bridge (D/N)

June 21 Fourth ODI, Durham (D/N)

June 24 Fifth ODI, Old Trafford

June 27 Only T20, Edgbaston (D/N)

T20I tri-series in Zimbabwe

Sunday, July 1: Zimbabwe vs Pakistan

Monday, July 2: Pakistan vs Australia

Tuesday, July 3: Australia vs Zimbabwe

Wednesday, July 4: Zimbabwe vs Pakistan

Thursday, July 5: Pakistan vs Australia

Friday, July 6: Australia vs Zimbabwe

Sunday, July 8: Final