England Lions Tour of Australia
Maddinson's chance to shine under Australia A spotlight
Chris Rogers looking for prolific Sheffield Shield batsman to translate form in pink-ball clash against England Lions
21 February 2020, 12:14 PM AEST
Former Test opener Chris Rogers wants Nic Maddinson to replicate his extraordinary Marsh Sheffield Shield form under the "spotlight" of this weekend’s high-stakes Australia A tour game against the England Lions.
The day-night clash at the MCG beginning Saturday shapes as a golden opportunity for a host of fringe Test batsmen including Maddinson, a late call-up to the 'A' side following an injury to Victorian teammate Will Pucovski, to push their cases.
Despite a second straight underwhelming KFC BBL season for the Melbourne Stars, Maddinson's remarkable four-day form since being dumped by New South Wales continued upon the Shield's resumption last week, posting 95 and 105 not out against his former side at the SCG.
The aggressive left-hander, who played three Tests for Australia in 2016-17, has now scored 1,211 first-class runs at 86.50 with five centuries since moving to Melbourne in 2018 without a professional contract.
Intriguingly, that form has not translated to T20s, the format in which he most recently played for Australia. In two seasons with the Stars, he has 258 runs at 10.75 from 24 innings.
"It is fascinating to see how you can find one format of the game pretty hard and then walk into another format and brain (dominate) it," said Rogers, an assistant coach for the 'A' side.
"It probably seems like he's pretty comfortable with the long format at the moment, so he must be doing something mentally to be able to cope with those kinds of challenges."
Maddinson, who broke his right hand and right thumb in separate incidents during an eventful first summer with the Vics, has also dealt with mental-health challenges throughout his career.
Last November, he pulled out of an Australia A game in Perth against Pakistan that was widely touted as a 'bat-off' for top-order players ahead of the Test summer.
Rogers said the upcoming game against the Lions, essentially the equivalent of an ‘A’ team, is an opportunity for Maddinson to show he’s in a good space to handle the added scrutiny.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how he goes with a bit more spotlight as well, because that's another issue he's going through," continued Rogers.
"Any time he's picked in these kinds of sides, it's going to be his own personal challenge with what he's going through with his mental health.
"It would be great to see him come out and play really well, and show he's gone through a bit of a process and come out the other side."
The pink-ball clash also shapes as a chance for recent Test discards Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja and Kurtis Patterson to put their hands up to go to Bangladesh later this year for Australia's next Test assignment.
Australia A captain Moises Henriques, whose four Tests have all come on the subcontinent, has also been flagged as a contender.
For the first time in years, Australia's Test top six is largely settled following a dominant home summer. Only opener Joe Burns is yet to secure his spot, but is expected to make the Bangladesh tour.
Burns replaced Harris for the home summer after the Victorian was recalled for the final two Ashes Tests but, like opening partner and fellow left-hander David Warner, found the going tough against England's right-arm pacemen bowling around the wicket.
"England bowlers had a real tactic about coming around the wicket (to Harris), but they did that to all the left-handers," Rogers said.
"If you are a good enough batsman, you will learn from those challenges. You would like to think he has had a really good think about it and how he is going to line that ball up, because it probably feels a little bit different.
"Sometimes you feel like you have to go to the back of the queue and do all that hard work again. It can be mentally a little bit challenging.
"(Harris) has been playing a lot of T20 (recently). It probably feels like he has stagnated a little bit, but this is just another excellent opportunity to show he is one of the best players in Australia."
Australia A Squad: Moises Henriques (c), Jackson Bird, Harry Conway, Marcus Harris, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja (vc), Nic Maddinson, Michael Neser, Kurtis Patterson, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, Jack Wildermuth