Gillette ODI Series 2018

Aussie pace ace breaking the mould

Western Australian whippet ready to mix it with the big dogs in Australian colours

Martin Smith Melbourne

12 January 2018, 07:25 PM AEST

After a Magellan Ashes campaign that was dominated by three tall and imposing fast bowlers, on the surface Jhye Richardson looks to be the antithesis of Australia's need for speed.

Standing at around 5 feet, 10 inches on the old scale, Richardson is dwarfed by his new fast-bowling teammates, Australia's towering Ashes pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Patrick Cummins.

There isn't much muscle mass on Richardson's tiny frame, either, and he physically appears more suited to an endurance sport like cycling than the high impact, high intensity trade of fast bowling.

But the 21-year-old has rapidly established himself as one of the quickest bowlers in Australian domestic cricket, capable of sending down regular spells in excess of 145kph. He even clocked 149kph in a KFC BBL game last summer.

Which, as Western Australian teammate Marcus Stoinis said bluntly on Friday, is “bloody quick”.

So how is Richardson’s small frame able to generate such hostility and power? It’s a question that has long perplexed even him.

"I get asked that question a lot and I don't really know what to tell people, to be honest," he says.

"Being 178cm and 73-74kg, there's not much to work with.

"Just the mechanics of bowling, having a locked front leg and fast twitch fibres helps being quite whippy. That's what I get explained to (me) fairly often being a whippy bowler. I think all of those things help."

Richardson goes nose, then toes for two in two

Whatever the reason, in a country where flat batting pitches demand something extra from its fast bowlers, Richardson's impressive pace has helped to quickly put him on the radar for higher honours.

Having made a surprise T20 international debut last season, a standout domestic campaign this summer – including a competition-high 13 wickets in WA’s JLT One-Day Cup triumph – means he’ll likely make his ODI debut against England this month, possibly as early as Sunday. 

A hostile spell to Australian skipper Steve Smith early in the JLT Sheffield Shield competition, a match in which he took six wickets, also left an impression on the national captain.

He was even tipped as a potential Ashes bolter by former England skipper Michael Vaughan 12 months ago, and Shane Warne this week put his name forward for the upcoming Test tour of South Africa.

A country that is home to one of the modern game's most prolific wicket-takers who, like Richardson, breaks the mould of the archetypal fast bowler.

"Someone like Dale Steyn has proven to everyone that you don't have to be tall and you don't have to be a solid bloke to be able to run in and bowl fast and bowl well," Richardson says.

"It comes down to being a different fast bowler. It doesn't necessarily mean you'll be better or worse, it just means you'll be a little bit different.

"But it's not all about pace. We get told that quite early, particularly at this level.

"You can bowl as fast as you want but if you're not bowling well, you can go to the boundary just as quick."

The fastest bowlers in the history of the BBL

A by-product of being young and bowling fast, as Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins can atest to, is injury. But that's something Richardson has managed to avoid in what has been his busiest season of cricket yet.

Having started the summer with only a handful of domestic matches behind him, the right-armer has played all but one Shield game for Western Australia and Perth Scorchers this summer.

Has his lighter build helped him avoid the kind of setbacks that normally hit young quicks early in their careers? Again, Richardson isn't entirely sure.

"Being light obviously helps with player loads and force and those kind of things," he says. "But on the other end of the spectrum, not being as strong as other guys needs to be considered.

"Being able to get in the gym early and being able to strengthen up (has helped).

"I'm still not a big guy, but being able to strengthen the areas that I've needed to strengthen from an early age has helped me be able to bowl quicker, become stronger and stay on the park for a little bit longer."

My perspective has changed: Stoinis

With a rest for Hazlewood (game one) and Cummins (game two) already confirmed for this Gillette ODI Series against England, the new face of Australian fast bowling will get a second chance at the top level over the coming weeks.

And another opportunity to prove that, when it comes to bowling fast, size doesn't always matter.

2017-18 International Fixtures

Gillette ODI Series v England

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Cameron White, Adam Zampa.

England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

England T20 squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21