West Indies v Australia T20Is - Men's
'Fearless' Christian backed for crucial World Cup role
A late addition to Australia's plans for the West Indies and Bangladesh tour, veteran allrounder Dan Christian must be considered for Australia's World Cup squad, says his BBL coach
10 June 2021, 03:19 PM AEST
The "fearless" stroke play and unmatched experience of veteran allrounder Dan Christian could be the answer to Australia unlocking their full batting potential at this year's T20 World Cup.
That's the opinion of Sydney Sixers mentor Greg Shipperd, one of the most experienced and decorated coaches in Australian cricket, who says Christian's batting in last season's KFC BBL 'blew my mind' and showed why he should be a leading contender for the troublesome finisher role in Australia's T20 team.
Australia's top order of Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell has been one of the most dominant on the global stage in recent years, but the middle order has long been a sore point.
Numbers from Opta have revealed that, in the past three years, Australia's middle order (batters No.5-7) are ranked eighth in the world for strike rate, 11th for balls per boundary and ninth for strike rate in the death overs.
Christian, who turned 38 last month, has built his reputation on batting fireworks late in the innings and was this week called into Australia's extended squad for the upcoming tours of the Caribbean and Bangladesh.
The recall of Christian (for the first time in four years) as well as five others is expected to be followed by the withdrawals of some of Australia's leading T20 batters, with Warner, Smith, Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis all reportedly weighing up whether they will take part in the tour.
Having watched Christian launch 272 runs at a strike rate of 182.6 in last season's Big Bash, Shipperd says the right-hander has the skills to swoop late for a World Cup spot and finally provide a solution to Australia's finisher woes.
"It is indeed a very specialist role and it's about calmness, clarity in the moment and being fearless," Shipperd said today, having signed a two-year contract extension with the back-to-back BBL champions.
"I guess he's at the stage of his career where he's using his experience wisely and he's not playing for the next year or next major contract. He plays with this fearless yet experienced mindset that allows him to take the best option.
"It's rare for a player to be mic'd up, as he often is in those phases, and be talking the commentators and viewers through what he's thinking and doing.
"As a coach, that blows my mind and just shows the poise he has and he's using his experience well.
"A lot of other players haven't been in those moments and dealt with that pressure, made the call, succeeded and failed. He balances those yo-yos that this form of the game throws at you particularly well.
"Now that he's been called back and I guess he's going to get some game time in West Indies, he gives himself a good chance to consolidate the interest that the Australian selectors have in him for that specific role within a team."
Shipperd acknowledged Stoinis, Mitch Marsh, Daniel Sams and Sean Abbott are also options for the finisher spot, but he believes Christian's vast experience gives him an edge in the selection battle.
The veteran has played 350 T20 games in a career that started in 2006, the most of any Australian player, and has also competed in the leagues of six different countries and won an astonishing nine domestic titles.
It's a level of experience that is unmatched in Australian cricket and Shipperd says could prove invaluable at the World Cup.
"In pre-planning for opposition, he's often played against many of those players (and) been in many of the situations that will confront the team in a tournament situation," he said.
"He can provide that calming balance or that exemplary performance that he did for the Sixers on four or five occasions last season.
"I would be pushing and promoting him competing strongly for one of those positions (at the World Cup)."
Having signed a new deal that will keep him at the Sixers until 2024, Shipperd says he's determined to keep a similar squad for this season's tournament as the club chases an unprecedented third straight title.
The 64-year-old revealed he had turned down a coaching role at this year's IPL but, after three decades of coaching, says he remains keen to explore options overseas in the future.
"With two new teams popping up in the IPL (reportedly as early as next year), I would certainly look at that," he said.
"Hopefully there's an opportunity in the future to be involved again as I was in the first four years of the competition and bring a team together and bring a team of coaches together and see what we can achieve.
"And perhaps, if I was lucky enough to have some interest in The Hundred competition, that would also capture my attention.
"I'm always looking but most times I'm reluctant to leave the nest that has served me well for many years."
Qantas Tour of the West Indies 2021
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Pat Cummins, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa (squad to be trimmed before departure)
West Indies T20 squad: Kieron Pollard (c), Nicholas Pooran (vc), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Kevin Sinclair, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr
First T20: July 9, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 10, 9.30am AEST)
Second T20: July 10, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 11 9.30am AEST)
Third T20: July 12, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 13, 9.30am AEST)
Fourth T20: July 14, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 15, 9.30am AEST)
Fifth T20: July 16, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 17, 9.30am AEST)
First ODI: July 20, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 2.30pm D/N (July 21, 4.30am AEST)
Second ODI: July 22, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 2.30pm D/N (July 23, 4.30am AEST)
Third ODI: July 24, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 2.30pm D/N (July 25, 4.30am AEST)