Pakistan's Tour of Australia - Men's
Arm-breaking, wicket-taking Meredith speeds into 'A' game
Having fractured a Tasmanian teammate's wrist and dismissed Steve Smith twice in four days, Australia A call-up Riley Meredith looms as a Test smokey
8 November 2019, 07:28 AM AEST
Anointed by Shane Warne as one of the next big things in Australian cricket, Tasmanian tearaway Riley Meredith still feels a way off being in the reckoning for a Test debut despite blasting his way into a prized spot to face Pakistan next week.
Australia's selectors paid heed to the enormous raps placed on Meredith by the likes of Warne, picking him as the most inexperienced member of a strong Australia A XI to play a three-day tour match at Perth Stadium starting Monday.
Meredith has shown that no batter in the country, including his own teammates, is safe when he's got the ball in his hands; a week after dismissing Steve Smith twice in four days, the right-armer broke Jordan Silk's wrist during centre-wicket practice at Blundstone Arena.
"It wasn't ideal," a sheepish Meredith told cricket.com.au of the incident that has ruled Silk out for at least a month. "It was a weird one, it didn't really bounce or get up that high, it just hit his hand.
"He walked straight out of the net, it didn't look great from the outset. I texted him that night and just said, 'Sorry mate'. It's just one of those things."
Two names to watch out for are Riley Meredith & Josh Philippe this Oz summer. I was hoping the selectors would’ve picked them for the World Cup that’s just finished - but it wasn’t to be. They will shine this and play for Aust ! Wish I could pick them for #TheHundredDraft— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) October 20, 2019
Meredith announced himself on the domestic scene last summer with a breakout KFC Big Bash campaign for the Hobart Hurricanes, with Warne and ex-Test pacemen Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson all identifying him as a potential international.
While his ability to hit 150kph and swing the new ball has made him a nightmare for BBL batters, the 23-year-old has quietly put together an impressive resume with the red ball as well.
He took 27 wickets at 28.96 in eight Sheffield Shield matches last summer and has already added 14 in Tasmania's first three games of the current season, including a maiden five-wicket haul against a Smith and David Warner-led Blues outfit.
Meredith removed that superstar pair in the ensuing Marsh One-Day Cup game, but admitted he'd been taken aback when Trevor Hohns rang him with news of his selection to face Pakistan in the day-night clash.
"There are so many good bowlers out there so I wasn't really expecting a call. It was a nice little surprise," said Meredith, who sits equal-third on the Shield's leading wicket-takers chart.
"Any international opposition is going to be a challenge, but playing against Steve Smith and David Warner the other week should get you ready for that.
"It's awesome getting picked but there's so many gun bowlers out there in Australia that you still feel like you're so far away (from the Test team)."
He may not be as far away as he thinks.
The ever-looming possibility of injury to Australia's leading quicks combined with international cricket's insatiable appetite for raw pace makes bowlers of Meredith's ilk an invaluable commodity.
The Hobart product has just 13 first-class games to his name and next week's clash at the Perth Stadium will be the first time he's bowled with a pink ball.
In fact, he need only cast his eye around the new Burswood arena's spacious changing rooms next week to fellow Australia A quick Jhye Richardson – who had played one fewer match than him when he won a Test call-up and starred in his maiden series against Sri Lanka earlier this year – to further his belief.
Going further back, Pat Cummins (who played three first-class games before his Test debut) and James Pattinson (nine) both showed they were immediately ready for the top flight.
"I've definitely improved since last year and the year before that," Meredith said. "You don't look too far ahead, you still feel like you're trying to contribute to wins for Tassie.
"(This season) I just wanted to try and lead the Tassie attack and take plenty of wickets, it's hard to think about playing for Australia (as well).
"If you're in the right spot at the right time, you never know."
Australia A squad: Alex Carey (c), Marcus Harris, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Will Pucovski, Travis Head, Nic Maddinson, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Sean Abbott, Riley Meredith.
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: TBC
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
Warm-up match: v Australia A, November 11-13, Perth Stadium (d/n)
Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 15-16, WACA Ground
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)