Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
The man for a crisis, Doolan calls time on his career
Four-time Test player and prolific run-scorer for Tasmania at domestic level, Alex Doolan announced his retirement
16 April 2021, 02:00 PM AEST
A certain chaotic symmetry surrounded Alex Doolan's arrival as a Test player in late 2013 and his farewell from first-class cricket more than seven years later.
Doolan – who today announced his retirement after 12 summers with Tasmania – was so hastily added to Australia's Test squad during the 2013-14 Ashes whitewash he was forced to make a dash home to Hobart to collect his cricket equipment.
Then, having lost his place in Tasmania's Marsh Sheffield Shield outfit earlier this summer, he was called in as a COVID-19 replacement on the first morning of the game against Victoria and was still collecting his bags at Melbourne airport as the Tigers suffered an early batting collapse.
Those frantic interludes were starkly at odds with Doolan's calm demeanour and no-fuss batting that sees him depart first-class ranks as Tasmania's eighth-highest Shield runs scorer and one of only eight male players to have donned the Tigers' cap in more than 100 Shield games.
"Not tough at all, really," Doolan said today of his decision to call it quits.
"I pretty much came up with it around Christmas time, I had two weeks off over Christmas while the Big Bash was going on and it was just a bit too good to refuse.
"It was probably the first time in 11 or 12 years I've had a proper Christmas off.
"So I made the call then and I've been very comfortable with it ever since.
"I felt I was still contributing really well to the team, but the team's also progressed to the point where a lot of younger players are coming through and looking to take the next step.
"You can't play forever and sometimes it's just time to get out of the way and let the next crop come through.”
The 35-year-old scored 5978 Shield runs at an average of 32.84 with 11 centuries, as well as making 31 appearances in the domestic one-day competition (997 runs at 38.34) and five seasons in the KFC BBL where he represented the Melbourne Renegades and the Hobart Hurricanes.
But the stand-out phase of the right-hander's career came when elevated to the Test squad in 2013 as Australia's incumbent No.3 batter, Shane Watson, battled a groin injury prior to that summer's final Ashes Test in Sydney.
Doolan, who had posted an impressive 161 for Australia A against South Africa a year earlier and then toured the UK, Zimbabwe and South Africa with Australia A during 2013, was earmarked as Watson's replacement after starting the subsequent summer with a century against New South Wales.
He was told of his call-up after the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne where he was on duty with the Renegades, and he made a hurried return to Hobart to gather his red-ball kit before joining the squad's Test preparations in Sydney where Watson was ultimately passed fit to play.
However, when Watson succumbed to a calf injury prior to the opening Test of the South Africa tour that followed in early 2014, Doolan received his Baggy Green Cap and came agonisingly close to earning immortality.
Having defied the Proteas' pace attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Ryan McLaren on a spiteful pitch at Centurion, Doolan edged a long-hop from part-time spinner J.P. Duminy when just 11 runs shy of becoming the 20th Australian man to score a century in his debut Test.
"I’m not sure I will ever get over that," Doolan recounted in the immediate aftermath.
"You only ever get one chance to make a debut hundred and I blew that opportunity."
So impressive was his arrival at Test level, Doolan was retained at No.3 after Watson recovered for the final match of that memorable series at Cape Town, where the allrounder batted down the order.
But a paucity of runs for the remainder of that series, followed by scores of five (run out) and nought in the first Test of the next campaign against Pakistan in the UAE saw Doolan lose his place to Glenn Maxwell, despite having scoring a hundred in a tour game against Pakistan A less than two weeks earlier.
It proved the end of his four-Test career, but Doolan remained a prolific contributor for Tasmania as shown by his standing as the Tigers' leading runs scorer since losing his Test berth, ahead of current selector national George Bailey and Jordan Silk.
After scores of 29, 10 and six in the early rounds of this summer's Shield competition, Doolan was omitted from Tasmania's starting XI only to earn a last-minute recall last month when Australia captain Tim Paine awoke feeling unwell on the first morning of the match against Victoria.
With Jake Doran installed to cover Paine's place behind the stumps, the Tigers found themselves a batter short and urgently summoned Doolan from Hobart on a flight that landed in Melbourne half an hour after play had started at the MCG.
Despite possessing an unflappable temperament that complemented his effortlessly elegant batting, Doolan managed scores of 12 and 12 upon recall and was overlooked for Tasmania's final Shield game of the summer, prompting him to call time on his first-class playing days.
He completed his final summer of Premier Cricket in Hobart by winning the Rodwell Medal for the Tasmania league's men's player of the year having previously won the award in 2007-08, a year prior to his first-class debut.
And he will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Tasmania's 2010-11 Sheffield Shield win – of which he was an integral part as the Tigers second-highest runs scorer behind Mark Cosgrove – with teammates who will gather for a reunion in Hobart next weekend.
M: 4 | Runs: 191 | Ave: 23.87 | HS: 89 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 1
M: 118 | Runs: 6824 | Ave: 33.61 | HS: 247* | 100s: 12 | 50s: 34
M: 42 | Runs: 1336 | Ave: 36.10 | HS: 96 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 9
M: 27 | Runs: 409 | Ave: 17.04 | HS: 70* | 100s: 0 | 50s: 1