Marsh One-Day Cup 2021-22
'Newbies' help Redbacks shed unwanted baggage
Skipper Travis Head says the injection of some new players has allowed South Australia to move past their winless season last summer
14 October 2021, 06:05 PM AEST
South Australia enters tomorrow's Marsh Sheffield Shield match against Queensland in unfamiliar territory, sitting atop the ladder – albeit by barely half a bonus point - after serving as the competition whipping boy for the past four summers.
And despite his own batting form being the stand-out factor in his team's revitalisation, skipper Travis Head believes it's the calibre of recruits the Redbacks gained during the off-season that has proved just as influential.
Head believes "newbies" including bowling spearhead Brendan Doggett (from Queensland), batter Jake Carder (WA) and allrounder Nathan McAndrew (NSW) have not only brought fresh energy and new ideas to a group that finished bottom of the Shield ladder for the previous four summers.
In addition, the trio - along with another ex-Queenslander, allrounder Nathan McSweeney and Victoria rookie Jordan Buckingham – don't carry the baggage of the Redbacks' recent history and have therefore been integral to the group forging a new path.
"It was nice to finally sing the team song," Head told cricket.com.au after his remarkable 230 (from 127 balls) led SA to their first win in 604 days in yesterday's Marsh One Day Cup meeting with the Bulls.
"We've got a couple of newbies in the group, and they haven't had those negative experiences I guess.
"Everyone's come to training with a real purpose, I can sense that.
"Plus there's a really relaxed vibe, and I think that's because there's a lot of guys that don't have the memories of the hardship we've gone through over the last couple of seasons.
"You can see that with Doggett, McSweeney, McAndrew, and it's fitted really well with the experienced guys like myself and Kez (Alex Carey) and Frankie (Daniel Worrall).
"It's a new group, and I think we've started beautifully."
Amid his genuine enthusiasm for the season ahead, Head is most excited by the prospect of Doggett taking the new ball against his former teammates over the coming days, on an Adelaide pitch that has been prepared against the backdrop of cold and wet weather.
Doggett missed SA's season-opening Shield and One Day Cup games against Western Australia, but announced his arrival in new colours yesterday when he captured 4-75 from nine overs on the batter-friendly deck at Karen Rolton Oval.
That haul included the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne from the second delivery Doggett sent down, a bouncer that hurried on to the Test No.3 whose top-edged pull shot was caught at deep backward square leg.
Having relied on the comparatively gentle seam and swing of Australia-capped pair Chadd Sayers and Worrall in recent years, and with their other genuine quick Wes Agar sidelined with a slight quad strain, Head can't wait to toss the new ball to his new spearhead.
"He's a real headline act for us, and that's what he wanted to do when he came here," Head said of the wiry 27-year-old, whose decision to relocate continues to leave some in the Bulls set-up shaking their heads.
"He wanted to be a leader of the bowling attack, so I know he's thoroughly pleased with the way he's started for us.
"And the excitement around our group was obvious when he got his first wicket (yesterday).
"He'll play in this Shield game, but I'm not sure what the weather will do so we may have a little bit more of a bowler-friendly wicket which obviously suits him really well.
"And our batters are in good form, so we need to find a way of getting as many runs as we possibly can to let our bowlers do the work.
"We'll assess the conditions once we get to the ground tomorrow, but it's definitely exciting to have him and the new ball."
The Redbacks have made three changes to the squad that fought out a bat-dominated draw against WA at Rolton Oval – in which Head top scored with 163 - with spin-bowling allrounder Sam Kerber and left-arm swing bowler Nick Winter joining Agar on the sidelines.
Young allrounder Liam Scott has recovered from a hamstring strain to be included in the Redbacks 13, along with Doggett and keeper Harry Nielsen, who would play as a specialist batter given Australia ODI representative Alex Carey's incumbency behind the stumps.
It seems likely the condition of Adelaide Oval's pitch for the venue's first game of the summer will dictate whether SA opt for an all-seam attack including seam-bowling allrounders McAndrew and Scott, or if leg-spinner Lloyd Pope gets the nod after seven-wicket match haul against WA.
Queensland have been forced to make one significant change to the team involved in last week's runs-soaked stalemate against Tasmania at Rolton Oval as regular Australia Test squad member Michael Neser has returned to Brisbane for the birth of his and fiancée Olivia's first child.
The reigning Shield champions have added uncapped 20-year-old seamer Connor Sully to the 12 that took on Tasmania, where allrounder James Bazley was assigned drinks duties.
Sully, a former Australia under-19 representative, made his List-A debut in yesterday's One Day Cup match against the Redbacks but – like every other bowler on the flat, true pitch – came in for some heavy punishment with his five overs yielding 0-51.
However, given Adelaide's recent stint of distinctly wintry spring weather and the propensity of Adelaide Oval's drop-in pitch to sport a good grass cover that encourages seamers, the balance is expected to swing back towards bowlers from tomorrow.
South Australia: Travis Head (c), Jake Carder, Alex Carey, Brendan Doggett, David Grant, Henry Hunt, Jake Lehmann, Nathan McAndrew, Harry Nielsen, Lloyd Pope, Liam Scott, Jake Weatherald, Daniel Worrall.
Queensland: Usman Khawaja (c), James Bazley, Joe Burns, Blake Edwards, Matthew Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Jimmy Peirson, Matthew Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Bryce Street, Connor Sully, Jack Wildermuth.
Sign up for BKT Big Bash Tipping this season at tipping.cricket.com.au! Go for the major prize or join a league and take on your friends, family and colleagues.