Webster proves a point in style

Left out of Tasmania's squad, Beau Webster bounced back with a memorable match-winning ton for the CA XI

Eight days ago, Beau Webster was the name surprisingly excluded from Tasmania's JLT One-Day Cup squad.

An Australia A representative in 2016, and with three first-class hundreds to his name, Webster only collected 87 runs in four innings for the Tigers during last year's domestic one-day tournament, but the classy right-hander promised plenty.

And on day one of the summer, he duly delivered with a brilliant 121 – not for his native Tasmania, but as captain of the Cricket Australia XI, which he led to a remarkably comprehensive first-up victory against South Australia.

A point to prove perhaps? Certainly the 23-year-old would have been favoured by most for selection ahead of Tigers newcomers Tom Rogers and Charlie Wakim.

Match Highlights: CA XI v SA

All that now is immaterial; Webster is with the CA XI and, against an attack featuring Dan Worrall and Joe Mennie – both of whom have played for Australia in this format in the past 12 months – he took the first opportunity of a new season to show the country the sort of quality he possesses in spades.

"Obviously there was some initial disappointment there," Webster said of his Tigers omission.

"But once I got over that and saw the opportunity I have to bat for the CA XI high up the order, I was really looking forward to it.

"It was nice to bat (at number three); I might not be doing that for Tasmania, so it was a good opportunity for me and I'm glad I made the most of it."

Moving forward and back at the crease, Webster uses his height – all 200cm of it – to great advantage. Early in his innings, he pulled and hooked boundaries from consecutive deliveries, highlighting an obvious liking for anything short.

"It's always nice to bat at AB Field," he said. "You get good value for runs here and it's quite a bouncy wicket, which I think suits my batting."

But the right-hander is far from a one-trick pony; he was savage on anything remotely close to his pads and drove beautifully, with one cover driven four in the middle of an impressive Mennie spell among the shots of a day that had plenty of contenders.

With one eye on the scoreboard, Webster paced his innings beautifully, seemingly well aware that he had time enough to treat the good balls with respect, and cashing in when the bowlers strayed.

He and 21-year-old West Australian Jake Carder (who also made a sparkling century – his first in List A cricket) dominated the Redbacks attack, making what could have been a difficult chase appear a formality from early in their pursuit.

Jake Carder notches brilliant ton

At the same venue a year ago, he batted for Australia A with another up-and-coming allrounder, Hilton Cartwright, for four hours against India A, in making 79. 

He faced 186 deliveries and perhaps his display of patience over any notable panache, alongside similar performances for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield, began to pigeonhole him as a longer-format player.

Webster himself suggested a drop in output in the second half of last Shield season could have been the reason for his exclusion from the Tigers' JLT Cup squad.

"We had some guys really performing well in the pre-season and hitting the ball really well, so it must've been a tough squad to pick," he said.

"My form wasn't great last year in the back half of the Shield season, so I might have to work my butt off to get back in (for) the first (Shield match) after the One-Day Cup."

CA XI quicks run riot on Redbacks

Whatever the reasoning, any theory suggesting Webster is a one-dimensional player was emphatically erased at Allan Border Field, as he ventured well beyond the orthodox and delved deep into the T20 box of tricks, with several effective reverse sweeps and even a delicate scoop to bring up three figures.

His emotional response upon reaching his maiden List A century (a wild swing of the bat and a Hewittesque 'C'mon!') revealed plenty about his determination, as well as his satisfaction at making such a statement at first attempt.

By day's end, this year's edition of the Cricket Australia XI had scored twice as many hundreds as the classes of 2015 and 2016 combined.

And their outstanding skipper had led the nation's young guns to a memorable first-up win.