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'Think outside the box', don't pigeonhole JFM: Gillespie

While Jake Fraser-McGurk is already striking fear into opposition Sheffield Shield teams, his Redbacks coach says he is still developing

Jake Fraser-McGurk's state coach Jason Gillespie has backed Ricky Ponting's suggestion that the batting sensation is a future Test player, stressing Australian cricket needs to “think outside the box” in harnessing his talent.

After a breakout KFC BBL|13 campaign vaulted him into the sights of a major overseas T20 league before swiftly being called into Australia's ODI team, Fraser-McGurk will return to South Australia for their final three Marsh Sheffield Shield matches of the season.

Ricky Ponting believes the 21-year-old could follow David Warner’s unconventional path into Test cricket and proposed he be “fast-tracked through the Australian system”.

Gillespie, a champion 71-Test former fast bowler, backed his former teammate Ponting’s verdict though suggested the young right-hander still needs to become more consistent.

Box office batting! Fraser-McGurk lights up Manuka

"Why not?" Gillespie told cricket.com.au when asked if Fraser-McGurk had Test potential.

"When David Warner first came into cricket, he played an international game before he played a first-class game. Now look at him 15 years later, he's a 100-Test cricketer.

"I think we've just got to think outside the box a little bit and not just pigeonhole people all the time.

"Whether Jake makes it or not, none of us really know, but we've all seen the clean ball-striking and he's actually got the technique to play first-class cricket.

"The raw talent needs to marry up with performance, absolutely, but the only way you can judge it is by giving them time to go out there and have those different experiences, knowing they've got the backing and support of the teammates and the coaching staff and selectors.

"I think we just have to be patient.

"Over the journey, we'll see a player learn and develop, with the hope that they will become more consistent."

'We just click': Fraser-McGurk on tight bond with batting coach

Consistency was the word national selection chief George Bailey also emphasised on Friday when asked about Fraser-McGurk, whose whirlwind 18-ball 41 against West Indies in Canberra earlier this week was not enough to win him a spot in Australia's T20 squad.

Warner, Mitch Marsh and Travis Head are among the top-order players who remain ahead of him in the pecking order.

"Thrilled with what he did when he came in and great to see him get an opportunity through those one-dayers," Bailey told reporters. "There's clearly a high, high degree of talent with Jake."

"His ability to learn about how to best utilise that (talent) across the formats will be really interesting over the next coming years.

"His opportunity to go back and get some really good, consistent performances in Shield cricket is really important … he's one we're certainly keeping a close eye on."

Fraser-McGurk blazes epic maiden ton to rescue Redbacks

While he blazed a brisk maiden Shield century against his former state Victoria in November, Fraser-McGurk's returns in red-ball cricket are yet to match his limited-overs exploits.

That innings (101 off 106 balls) at Adelaide Oval marked only the second time he has passed fifty in 24 first-class innings.

In 13 matches (eight for Victoria, five for South Australia), he is averaging 22.39.

Warner, by comparison, was averaging 60 from 11 first-class games when he made his Test debut in 2011.

But the fear Fraser-McGurk already commands in the Sheffield Shield is a promising sign, insists Gillespie.

Warner averaged 60 in the Sheffield Shield when he got picked for the Test side // Getty

"We had a game against New South Wales earlier in the year, he walked out to bat and before he faced a ball, they changed the field, and within 15 balls they changed the field five times and had four blokes on the fence," said the Redbacks coach.

"I explained to Jake, 'in that situation, you're actually winning before you've faced a ball. So the challenge is how can you keep winning the battle?'

"'You've got an experienced captain like (Blues skipper) Moises Henriques, he's constantly changing the field. So he's concerned about you – they're concerned about you – you're winning. So how can you keep winning?'

"That's the question, and just keep thinking about that when you're out in the middle.

"The only way players get better is by being exposed and being put in different situations, different scenarios in all formats of the game."

South Australia host Queensland in the Sheffield Shield at Adelaie Oval next Friday.

Sheffield Shield 2023-24 standings

Team
Matches played
M
Wins
W
Losses
L
Drawn
D
No results
N/R
Deductions
Ded.
Batting Bonus
Bat
Bowling Bonus
Bowl
Total points
PTS
1 Tasmanian Tigers Men Tasmanian Tigers Men TAS 8 4 1 3 0 0 5.66 6.3 38.96
2 Victoria Men Victoria Men VIC 8 4 2 2 0 0 4.74 6.2 36.94
3 Western Australia Men Western Australia Men WA 8 3 2 3 0 0 4.09 7.4 32.49
4 NSW Men NSW Men NSW 8 3 3 2 0 0 3.82 7 30.82
5 Queensland Bulls Queensland Bulls QLD 8 2 4 2 0 0 3.54 6.4 23.94
6 South Australia Redbacks South Australia Redbacks SA 8 2 6 0 0 0 3.61 7.8 23.41

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

D: Drawn

N/R: No results

Ded.: Deductions

Bat: Batting Bonus

Bowl: Bowling Bonus

PTS: Total points