If Australia’s selectors are looking for an opener who is in form and is a proven performer on debut then they need look no further than Victoria’s Travis Dean.
Dean scored 134no for the Bushrangers on the opening day of their blockbuster Sheffield Shield clash against NSW Blues with national selector Mark Waugh in attendance.
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The 24-year-old combined with fellow Test aspirant Peter Handscomb (110no) to put the Blues to the sword with an unbeaten 225-run partnership in more than four hours at the crease.
With six spots likely up for grabs in Australia’s XI for the third Commonwealth Bank Test in Adelaide, including a position next to David Warner at the top of the order, Dean’s timely ton has put his name at the forefront of the new-look selection panel and has a magical first-class debut on his resume to boot.
In round one of the Sheffield Shield last year, the Bushrangers picked Dean to make his state debut at the expense of World Cup-winning opening batsman Aaron Finch.
With 154no in his first innings for Victoria, the diminutive right-hander vindicated his selection.
And if that wasn’t enough, Dean backed it up in the second innings with an unbeaten 109 in guiding the Bushrangers to a nine-wicket victory over Queensland at the MCG.
Dean, who was on the field for every minute of that match, is just the second Australian – after legend Arthur Morris – and seventh player in history to score twin tons on first-class debut.
Handscomb had the best seat in the house to watch Dean’s six-hour statement to the selectors, describing the knock as “very calculated”.
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“Trav’s great, he knows his own game very well even though it’s only his second year in first-class cricket,” Handscomb said.
“He burst onto the scene in his debut but he’s really moulded his technique and stuck to his guns and playing the way he plays, which I think is great.”
In his debut season, Dean scored 807 runs at 44.83 as the Bushrangers made it back-to-back Shield titles, capping the year off with 111 and 54 in the final against South Australia in Adelaide.
Those performances under pressure earnt him a spot in Australia A’s winter tour against India A in Brisbane, but failed to captialise on the opportunity, posting 1, 0 and 0 in his three innings in the four-day format.
Dean’s start to his second season hasn’t been as electric as his first with scores of 26, 17 and 0, but he made amends on Thursday with his fourth first-class century.
In his 274-ball knock, the Footscray-Edgewater product hit 17 fours – including one all-run – and used his feet judiciously against Test spin twins Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe.
Dean didn’t offer the Blues a chance all day, and his teammate and fellow century-maker Handscomb was elated for his partner on a day where the Bushrangers finished at 2-292 at stumps.
“It’s a nice day to come out and make a couple of runs,” Handscomb said.
“Awesome to do it with Travvy Dean up the other end as well.
“He didn’t get the runs in the first couple of games that he wanted but to come out here today on a track that was pretty tough against spin, to make a hundred he’s pretty happy as well.”