Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Return of the Mack: Victoria turn to ex-WA quick
Simon Mackin set to boost youthful Victorian bowling attack as Sheffield Shield powerhouse look to cover for absence of key trio
29 September 2020, 06:07 PM AEST
Victoria's bid to maintain their status as a Sheffield Shield powerhouse has seen them throw a lifeline to discarded Western Australian Simon Mackin, as the state attempts to cover for the loss of three star pacemen integral to their recent success.
New coach Chris Rogers admits Victoria will face significant challenges when they head to Adelaide for the beginning of the Marsh Sheffield Shield season next week, not least the fact they will be the only team required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine before they can begin their campaign.
When they do emerge to begin their campaign on October 22, the Vics will be without a trio who have been vital in securing four of the past six Shield titles and finishing no lower than third during that period; Peter Siddle (who has crossed to Tasmania), Chris Tremain (NSW) and James Pattinson (a late call-up to the Indian Premier League).
Those three have taken 235 wickets at 24.80 between them over the past three seasons.
Mackin, a tall right-armer who played 31 first-class games for WA before losing his contract and moving to Melbourne this year, opened up to cricket.com.au last month on his struggles with the 'yips' with Western Australia.
But having impressed in intra-squad games in recent weeks, the 28-year-old has won a spot in Victoria's 18-man squad for Adelaide to add some much-needed experience to their attack.
Veterans Scott Boland and Jon Holland are the only other bowlers who have played more than five first-class games.
"The amount of experience we lost, we were highly conscious of how exposed we would be if Scotty Boland went down," Rogers told cricket.com.au. "We just have him (Mackin) as a squad player to give us some experience and some leadership.
"Looking at what he's been through, he can guide some of the young guys. His bowling in the preseason in the intra-squad matches has been high class, really.
"This is the youngest group I've ever seen for a Victorian squad. We've lost a lot of experience in the bowling, that's going to be our biggest challenge. I don't think that that's any secret.
"Taking 20 wickets is what we have to focus on with this group and there will be a bit of learning and young players getting opportunities. Hopefully we'll see a few of these young players stand up."
Rogers, who himself made a successful move from WA to Victoria in 2008 that helped him earn a regular Test spot in the twilight of his career, stressed he remains committed to blooding young Victorian talent in his first major head coaching role.
There is optimism over the prospects of emerging quicks Will Sutherland, Zak Evans, Xavier Crone and Mitchell Perry (who Rogers likened to a young Damien Fleming), while Sam Elliott (the son of former Test opener, Matthew) and Cameron McClure are on the rookie list.
Sutherland took 18 wickets at 17.61 in an exciting maiden Shield season last summer but Rogers tempered expectations over the young allrounder.
"He's a young man in a hurry, he wants to go all the way," the 43-year-old said of Sutherland. "Equally we've got to temper him a little bit and he's got to work for it.
"Being a young fast bowler, just because he looks like he's strong already, he's still developing physically and we just have to make sure we're not putting expectations on him that are too high.
"It'd be easy to say, 'Here's someone we expect to play every game' but the reality is he probably doesn't have the durability of someone like Scott Boland for instance.
"We've got to make sure we're not pushing him too hard."
Victoria have a little more experience on the batting front with captain Peter Handscomb, last year's leading Shield run scorer Nic Maddinson, and opener Marcus Harris all with Test experience.
Will Pucovski is expected to return after battling mental health and concussion issues last summer.
A three-day intra-squad game will be played at the Junction Oval on Wednesday before an 18-man squad that will be finalised later this week leaves for Adelaide on Monday. Victoria play four games in the initial Shield hub and twice against reigning champions NSW.