The Wells deep for Australia's middle order T20 pool

Adelaide Strikers' middle-order mainstay continues to put up compelling numbers in BBL|09 that have earned comparisons to Michael Bevan

Now that he's established himself among the foremost runs-scorers of the current KFC BBL season, Jon Wells is mounting a credible case to be considered the best middle-order finisher the competition has seen.

And for that reason, the 31-year-old is likely to be among the names considered for the national men's team at the ICC T20 World Cup tournament that will be played in Australia during October and November this year.


While Australia boasts no shortage of batting options for the number five and six positions, with the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner, Marcus Stoinis and keeper Alex Carey used in the recent past – Wells' claim is becoming increasingly compelling.

His unbeaten 55 (from 36 balls) for the Adelaide Strikers that earned him player-of-the-match honours in Wednesday night's win over BBL pace-setters Melbourne Stars lifted him to third place among BBL|09's leading scorers, and among the top six most prolific batters in the competition's history.

He has now scored 1718 runs at an average of 35.79 from 70 innings, with only Brisbane Heat skipper Chris Lynn (2277 at 38.59), Melbourne Renegades captain Aaron Finch (2080 at 36.49) and injured Renegades veteran Shaun Marsh (1884 at 45.95) combining similar productivity with consistency.

Strikers conquer ladder-leading Stars, rise to second

And Wells is the only batter among BBL|09's ten leading run-scorers who regularly bats outside the top four for his team.

But an even closer examination of the right-hander's credentials suggests his expertise in the challenging lower-middle-order slots is akin to that exhibited by former Australia ODI great Michael Bevan who was renowned for his ability to resurrect or crown a batting innings, depending on the scenario into which he was thrust.

Certainly, Wells's record in that role across nine seasons and 78 appearances in the BBL for Hobart Hurricanes and the Strikers speaks for itself.

Only Sydney Sixers' Jordan Silk has scored more BBL runs batting at number five (797) than Wells' 763, although the latter's return has come from four fewer innings and with a significantly higher average (42.39 to Silk's 30.65) as well as a marginally superior strike rate – 128.23 per 100 balls against 121.68.

Swell Wells posts vital half-century

It's a similar story when Tasmania-born Wells, who began his tenure with the Hurricanes in the first iteration of the Big Bash League as an opener before shifted down the order in BBL|03, appears at number six.

Big-hitting Brisbane Heat allrounder Ben Cutting has been clearly the most effective and destructive batter in that position (647 runs at a remarkable strike rate of 167.18), but next-most prolific is Wells who has scored 364 at 131.41 per 100 balls from his 16 innings at six.

A majority of his 37 matches in Strikers colours have seen him bat at number five, although his experience in all batting berths between opener and number seven throughout his career saw him fill-in at four while Adelaide captain Travis Head and then his deputy, Alex Carey, were absent on international duty in recent weeks.

But it's in the highly specialised berth below the top four that Wells now feels most comfortable.

From the Vault: Bevan becomes a hero

"Batting middle to lower-order in those situations, when you're in with time to bat it's generally because you've lost early wickets," he said after the Strikers 11-run win over the Stars on Wednesday night, having gone to the wicket with his team in trouble at 3-51.

"So I'm pretty comfortable and used to doing that now, having done it for a number of years.

"I'd like to come in when the team's flying, and be able to go earlier, but it's part of the role."

Bevan earned his reputation as Australia's pre-eminent ODI 'finisher' through his similar ability to rescue a batting line-up that had crashed early, or to add the finishing touches to an already sizeable score by threading the ball into gaps and clearing the boundary on occasions.

Wells is equally adept at finding space between fielders, and his power game was best exhibited when he clubbed Sixers seamer Ben Dwarshuis on to the roof of the SCG's Bill O'Reilly Stand during BBL|07.

Wells thumps monster six onto the roof

And like Bevan, who played 232 ODIs between 1994 and 2004, Wells' presence in the middle during the final overs of a frantic first innings or a tricky run chase sees his team home more often than not.

Of the 15 occasions he's scored 30 or more or remained not out when batting at five for the Hurricanes or Strikers, he's emerged on the winning side 73 per cent of the time.

Wells claims he's not modelled his game on any individual player who has preceded him in the various limited-overs formats, Bevan included, and believes a key to ongoing success in the hugely competitive T20 genre is to keep evolving to keep ahead of opposition bowling strategies.

"I just try to use my strengths and keep improving," he said.

"There's so much footage out there now, and so much research done into players, you've just got to try and adapt and get better otherwise teams come at your weakness pretty regularly."

Wells also acknowledges that being listed at number five or six in T20 cricket is likely the toughest assignment for a specialist batter, as you're either expected to shore up an innings after an early collapse or score freely from ball one if top-order teammates have completed most of the job.

And a lower-middle-order player is rarely afforded the luxury of batting inside the six-over power-play at the top of an innings, when the ball is hardest and fewer fielders are permitted on the boundary rope.

Not that he would have it any other way.

"If you ask any batter in the competition, they'd want to bat at the top of the order or top three to try and make the most of that power-play and be facing as many balls as possible," Wells said.

"But you're coming in to different situations every game (lower down).

"Having done it for a long time now I've gotten used to it, and know how I need to play in most situations."