Well well Wells: Quiet achiever moves into T20I frame

Big Bash middle-order specialist Jonathan Wells keeps the Adelaide Strikers engine room ticking over

Pocket dynamo Jonathan Wells is in serious danger of shedding his perennial 'underrated' tag, with the hot form of the Adelaide Strikers batsman suddenly a major KFC BBL talking point after another match-winning performance.

Wells showcased the T20 smarts and surprising power that has made him one of the competition's most reliable middle-order performers during the Strikers' thrilling five-run win, carving out a well-paced 68 not out from 46 deliveries.

The right-hander arrived in the middle with his side 3-53 in the sixth over and proceeded to lead the Strikers to a match-winning total of 4-174, with a decisive 15 coming from Wells' blade in the final over.

The 31-year-old is the 12th-highest BBL run-scorer and the only player in the top 15 not to have represented their country (14 Australians, plus Englishman Luke Wright).

"I'm happy to fly under the radar and just go about my business," Wells said. "I'm not as powerful as some of the other batters in the tournament so I do it a slightly different way, but I'm just happy to be able to play my role.

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"I'm just in that middle-order role with the Strikers and my job is to get us across the line if we're chasing, and this tournament we've been setting (targets) so (it's been about) read the situation and make sure we've got totals we can defend."

His ability to fill a role so specifically is notable. When Australia's T20I squad for the Sri Lanka and Pakistan series was announced in October, selection chair Trevor Hohns noted the players picked were "quite role specific".

"We have selected top and middle-order specialists," Hohns added. "The likes of Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner and (Alex) Carey provide us excellent options through the middle-order after (Aaron) Finch, (David) Warner and (Steve) Smith."

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Among current players only Maxwell has made any kind of impact in the No.5 position for Australia (358 runs at 29, SR 149), but with the Stars skipper seemingly having a mortgage on No.4, third drop has most recently been occupied by Turner.

The Western Australian has only had three innings in the role for Australia, while his numbers in the final six overs of all Big Bash matches are superior to Wells in terms of strike-rate (177 plays 151) but inferior when it comes to average (25 plays 41).

Effectively this means Wells offers 41 from 27 balls with each trip to the crease versus Turner's 25 from 14.

Most runs in final six overs of KFC Big Bash matches

Dan Christian | 764 runs | Ave: 29.4 | SR: 171.7

Ben Cutting | 705 runs | Ave: 21.4 | SR: 169.1

Jon Wells | 657 runs | Ave: 41.06 | SR: 151.4

George Bailey | 601 runs | Ave: 25 | SR:  171.7

Jordan Silk | 525 runs | Ave: 26.3 | SR: 148.7

Glenn Maxwell | 517 runs | Ave: 22.5 | SR: 184.6

Ashton Turner | 515 runs | Ave: 25.8 | SR: 177

The fact Maxwell's 358 runs from No.5 are the most in Australia's T20I history highlights just what a problem spot it has been, a point identified by the national selection panel with their shift in thinking towards role specificity – as opposed to a previous trend of stacking a batting order with the best top-order players.

"I've definitely gotten used to (the No.5 role)," added Wells, who is uncontracted at state level this season and spends his winters working with Icon Sports.

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"I've done it for a number of years now and I've certainly got my head around how I need to play in different situations.

"I'd obviously love to represent Australia, like everyone would in this competition.

"It's a bit of a niche role I guess but Ashton Turner is filling that at the moment so I've just got to keep playing my role for the Strikers, and hopefully contribute to a few more wins."