Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Young gun Scott to fill SA's prime batting role
Twenty-year-old with only five first-class matches to his name will bat at first-drop against WA this week having displayed a similar temperament to fellow allrounder Cameron Green
24 February 2021, 09:32 AM AEST
South Australia will install rookie allrounder Liam Scott to the pivotal number three batting berth as they look to haul themselves from the foot of the table in the second half of the Marsh Sheffield Shield season.
Scott, who has played just five first-class matches in which he's batted only at number seven, has shown a similarly calm temperament and solid technique to Western Australia allrounder Cameron Green who earned a Test call-up and performed strongly against India this summer.
A year younger than Green, 20-year-old Scott made his Shield debut against WA at the WACA last season and will return to the same venue for the match starting tomorrow as a mainstay of the Redbacks’ rejigged batting line-up.
Absent from the team that lost to Queensland in the final match of the Shield season's opening phase are veteran Callum Ferguson (retired) and opener Conor McInerney (omitted), while Brad Davis who began the summer at number three has been dropped from the squad along with Tom Cooper.
With regular opener Jake Weatherald leading SA's second XI in his return to long-form cricket after a break for mental health reasons late last year, former WA batter Will Bosisto is expected to open alongside Henry Hunt with Scott elevated to first-drop.
It's a glowing endorsement from coach Jason Gillespie and skipper Travis Head, who will remain at number four, and reflects the profound belief in the former Australia Under-19 representative whose highest score in 10 first-class innings to date is 61 (from 162 balls faced) against Victoria last November.
"He'll get an opportunity to go up there and have a crack at it, and I just hope he learns from that and can take everything in," Head said of the tall right-hander who will become SA's youngest number three since Head first filled the role at age 18 nine years ago.
"The way he's played and especially the temperament he's shown, it's something I've been very, very impressed with in a guy that's played five Shield games.
"It's going to be great to see his evolution over the next four games in that spot because I think he's a hell of a player."
Scott was born in Sydney but shifted to Adelaide in search of senior opportunities two years ago and has been playing alongside Redbacks regulars Alex Carey and Chadd Sayers at Glenelg in the Premier Cricket competition.
Current Victoria coach Chris Rogers, who worked closely with Scott during his tenure at the helm of Australia's development program, echoed Scott's own assessment that he struggled against spin during last year's U19 World Cup in South Africa.
But Rogers praised Scott's work ethic, and his capacity to adapt to senior cricket as the Redbacks went through a period of coaching turmoil followed by a wide-ranging review of their cricket operations last season.
"He's an intelligent young man, with a bit of an old head on young shoulders when it comes to the game," Rogers told cricket.com.au recently.
"There's a lot to like about what he does, and the way he's stood up in some of the experiences he had last year in the SA environment was pretty impressive.
"If he can continue that trajectory, he can do some excellent things."
Like Green, who has been forced to miss extended periods of cricket due to stress fractures in his back caused by bowling, Scott has been used in closely monitored bowling spells behind front-line quicks Sayers, Daniel Worrall and Wes Agar this summer.
With his promotion to a specialist batting position, his bowling workload is likely to be further reduced with the Redbacks adding seamer David Grant and uncapped all-rounder Corey Kelly (an Australia U19s teammate of Scott) to their 12-man squad for the Perth Shield match.
But Head claims Scott, who captured 6-19 from 11 overs for Glenelg in last weekend's Premier Cricket win over Kelly's Sturt outfit, remains a vital part of SA's bowling plans as they chase their first Shield win in more than a year against third-placed WA.
"We'll manage his bowling, he's a young kid who's going to play a full season of Shield cricket," Head said today.
"He got six-for nothing on the weekend in club cricket, and his bowling has been crucial for us as well.
"I think his batting is ahead of his bowling at the moment, but he's played a huge role with the ball which means less overs for Chadd, Frankie (Worrall) and Wes, and he rounds us off really well.
"So we'll manage him through that, and I think him going up the order means we can play some other guys (bowling options) as well.
'It just lightens his load a little bit, but I feel the way he's tracking is exceptional."
SA squad for Sheffield Shield v WA, Feb 25: Travis Head (c), Alex Carey (wk), Wes Agar, Will Bosisto, David Grant, Henry Hunt, Corey Kelly, Jake Lehmann, Harry Nielsen, Chadd Sayers, Liam Scott, Daniel Worrall
SA squad for Marsh Cup v WA, March 2: Travis Head (c), Alex Carey (wk), Wes Agar, Tom Cooper, Callum Ferguson, David Grant, Peter Hatzoglou, Corey Kelly, Harry Nielsen, Cameron Valente, Jake Weatherald, Daniel Worrall.