Gillespie hopeful Weatherald will return to Redbacks

With South Australia opener Jake Weatherald taking an indefinite break from the game, his domestic coach hopes they will see him return "sooner rather than later"

South Australia coach Jason Gillespie has confirmed it's "unlikely" Jake Weatherald will return to top-level cricket this summer but remains hopeful the dynamic opener will again don the Redbacks' colours.

Weatherald has not played since before Christmas after an abdominal strain saw him sidelined him for the remainder of the Adelaide Strikers' KFC BBL|12 campaign, but he has since informed the SA Cricket Association he is taking an indefinite break from the game.

In announcing SA's squad for the Marsh Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia at Adelaide Oval starting tomorrow, SACA Sports Science and Sports Medicine Manager John Porter confirmed Weatherald's unavailability.

"Jake is taking leave from the game at the moment to work on his mental health and wellbeing and he'll be unavailable for the rest of the season," Porter said.

It's not the first time Weatherald – the fourth-highest scoring Shield opener in SA's history, behind Les Favell, Andrew Hilditch and Greg Blewett – has felt the need to take a break from cricket.

In October 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions meant all domestic teams were subjected to tight bio-security bubbles, he withdrew from the season's second Shield match citing mental wellbeing issues.

He returned later in the summer, having posted a double century as skipper of SA's second XI.

Speaking to reporters today, Gillespie echoed the view that the 28-year-old would not represent the Redbacks again this season but added "hopefully we'll have him around sooner rather than later".

"We'll just have to wait and see," Gillespie said when asked if he was confident Weatherald would continue his six-year career with South Australia.

"He sustained an injury during BBL, on Christmas Eve he hurt himself.

"There was a process for him to come back and then he was unavailable for selection.

"I had an inkling that something was amiss, but we just let the process work out and let Jake get the support he needed at the time.

"I'll be catching up with Jake in next couple of days.

"We've been tick-tacking on the phones, and he's okay – I just want to reassure everyone that Jake's okay.

"He just needs a bit of a break and we'll support him in whatever way we possibly can."

Weatherald is the Adelaide Strikers' all-time leading run scorer with his most memorable innings being the 115 off 70 balls he plundered off Hobart Hurricanes in the final of BBL|07 to lead his team to their sole title to date.

It is also understood the punishing opener is contracted to the Strikers until the end of BBL|14.

Weatherald was also pivotal in SA's most recent Shield victory – their first for the current summer – posting a century against Tasmania at Hobart in the Redbacks previous first-class outing.

His place at the top of the order for the game starting tomorrow will be taken by fellow left-hander and former WA batter Jake Carder who lost his place in the SA starting XI earlier this season, but scored a breezy hundred on the final day of last week's Toyota Second XI match against Queensland.

Carder's inclusion looms as the only likely change for SA as their Shield campaign resumes after the BBL hiatus, although seamer Jordan Buckingham is also pushing for a recall having recovered from a fractured finger.

Fast bowler David Grant has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after suffering a stress reaction in his back that will prevent him bowling until preparation begins for 2023-24.

WA trained in baking heat at Adelaide Oval yesterday, with the current competition leaders naming a squad of 13 that includes veteran skipper Shaun Marsh whose most recent outing was last year's Shield final.

Australia white-ball allrounder Marcus Stoinis has also been named in the squad despite his recent return from the ILT20 league in the UAE and not having played a Shield game in almost three years.

The reigning titleholders have lost Australia representatives Ashton Agar and Lance Morris to the current Qantas Tour of India, as well as fast bowler Joel Paris who is suffering quad tightness and keeper-batter Josh Philippe who has been dropped.

Play begins at Adelaide Oval at 10.30am ACDT.

Squads – South Australia: Henry Hunt (c), Wes Agar, Jordan Buckingham, Jake Carder, Brendan Doggett, Daniel Drew, Thomas Kelly, Jake Lehmann, Ben Manenti, Nathan McAndrew, Nathan McSweeney, Harry Nielsen.

Western Australia: Shaun Marsh (c), Cameron Bancroft, Hilton Cartwright, Cameron Gannon, Aaron Hardie, Josh Inglis, Matt Kelly, David Moody, Corey Rocchiccioli, Charlie Stobo, Marcus Stoinis, Sam Whiteman, Teague Wyllie.