Ross addresses selection battle

'The Sweepologist' is pumped for the coming BBL season, but working his way into South Australia’s Shield team is also on the agenda

Alex Ross is just five weeks away from returning to the crash and bash of the KFC Big Bash League with the Brisbane Heat, but his mind is very much still in the present.

While he loves the summer carnival that is the Big Bash, there is a more pressing issue at hand; he is desperate to force his way back into South Australia's JLT Sheffield Shield team.

Quite understandably, Ross doesn't want to become known as the forgotten man of Australian cricket. 

The hard-hitting right-hander did his best to avoid that fate in Wednesday's T20 clash for the Cricket Australia XI against South Africa in Brisbane, top-scoring with 40 from 35 balls in a losing cause. 

But just four Shield matches in the past two seasons is an indication that, in a state brimming with batting talent, the 26-year-old is being forced to bide his time. 

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"I've just been chipping away at home. It'd be nice not to have that rep (as a forgotten man), hopefully I can change that soon – it was great to come up here and play this game, and I can't wait for the Big Bash to start," he told cricket.com.au. 

"But I'm still trying my best to be in the Shield side. Obviously South Australia's going really well. Tom Cooper got left out a couple of games ago, then all of a sudden he comes back in and he's second- top run-scorer in the comp. 

"So it's a tough side to break into, and that's what we want in South Australia, but for me personally, it's just about keeping on trying to get back in there. But at the moment, you can't drop anyone. So it's tough. 

"It's definitely difficult (mentally), but in the end, that's what happens with cricket."

Ross falls just short of half-century

Ross has played 18 first-class matches for the Redbacks since debuting in February 2015, but six half-centuries and an average of 28 didn't guarantee him selection after he fractured his left hand in the one-day domestic tournament of 2016. 

"I broke my hand two or three years ago now and gave my spot up, and that was it, really," he reflected. "Timing is a wonderful thing. 

"I probably played my first one-day game too early under (former coach Darren) 'Chuck' Berry, but the timing was right and the opportunity was there. So there's two sides to that coin."

Ross will link up with the Heat ahead of their opening match against his former team, the Adelaide Strikers, on December 19, and the man who has earned the moniker 'The Sweepologist' is set to again feature as part of a red-hot batting line-up. This summer there will likely be more competition for spots than ever, with the rise to prominence of young local Brisbane prospect Max Bryant, who batted with Ross against the Proteas and made a quick-fire 36. 

"When we look at our side, we know that people fear our batting line-up," Ross said.

"Even batting out there today with Maxy Bryant, I was standing there thinking, 'if these guys miss their length at all, he's going to hit it for six'. 

"So it's going to be great to watch him go around this year."

While admitting he enjoys the change of scene with the Heat and the refresher it gives him, Ross isn't looking beyond the South Australian border for another shot at first-class cricket. Not yet, anyway. 

"You'd do anything for an opportunity but (switching states is) not in the forefront of my mind," he added. "I really enjoy it down there, my family's down there, I've got my girlfriend, dog, house. 

"But cricket doesn't last forever – I'd love to be playing first-class cricket and if there were no opportunities opening up and there was elsewhere, I'd be open to it, but I really do love South Australia.

"It's great to see us doing well and it's something the South Australian public deserves, so if that's the team to win silverware for us then that's great – but hopefully I'm in it."