Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Dan the man to fill departing Sayers' void: Head
South Australia skipper expects swing bowler to step up in responsibility next summer, with all options on the table in terms of off-season recruitment
Louis Cameron at the Junction Oval, Melbourne
6 April 2021, 05:02 PM AEST
Travis Head wants Daniel Worrall to take Chadd Sayers' mantle as South Australia's Marsh Sheffield Shield attack leader, but did not rule out the Redbacks looking interstate for bowling reinforcements.
Sayers walked off the Junction Oval through a guard of honour after his decade-long first-class career came to an end on Tuesday but, true to his understated character, the star paceman denied attempts by teammates to chair him off the ground.
The exit of SA's leading bowler in recent years leaves a major hole in an attack that had not bowled a side out all season before knocking Victoria over in the first innings on Monday, though only after the hosts had added 170 for the final three wickets.
The fact Sayers finished the season as SA's leading bowler (with 13 wickets at 46.76) despite the leanest return of his career from a full Shield season highlights the considerable challenge facing a side that has now finished bottom of the standings four seasons on the trot.
"It's obviously going to leave a massive hole in the dressing room and in the field," Redbacks captain Head told cricket.com.au after an early stumps was called in his side's drawn clash with Victoria.
"His passion for South Australian cricket, his work ethic, the way he has led the attack for 10 years now – he's been massive. Personally, he had some good years which contributed to us playing a couple of Shield finals (in 2015-16 and 2016-17) in that period.
"It was a lot of fun and he will be missed a lot,
"Now it's a great opportunity for 'Franky' (Worrall) to step up into that role … Someone like Franky who has probably sat on the back of Chadd for four or five years and shown how good he is, it's a great opportunity for him to now lead this young attack and a young team.
"Hopefully he can do that over this next period."
The end of a fantastic career for @Chaddsayers27 👏 - 279 first-class wickets for South Australia (third overall) - 28 wickets for Australia A (9 matches) - 2 for Australia (1 Test)#SheffieldShield pic.twitter.com/S9c4lOoFnL— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) April 6, 2021
In a summer that has admittedly seen more batter-friendly pitches than usual, Worrall was the only other Redbacks bowler to take more than eight wickets during their winless campaign, finishing with 12 victims at 45.41.
Head however said he was buoyed by the impressive first-class debut of left-arm spinner Sam Kerber, who took three wickets against Victoria and added scores of 55 and 33, and suggested speedsters David Grant and Wes Agar had also offered positive signs.
The SA skipper conceded it had been tough for Agar, who struggled to recapture the form that had seen him take 33 wickets at 24.33 on the way to winning the Bradman Young Cricketer award the previous summer, to adjust to a different role as the side's "enforcer" in four-day cricket.
He also pointed out promising young allrounder Liam Scott had limited opportunities with the ball and would be a stronger option next summer with another pre-season under his belt.
But with the ink still drying on Mike Hussey's review into SA cricket last year that recommended the Redbacks actively pursue the "the 10th-15th best players" from rival states, Head suggested their options were open.
"You look at everything at the end of the season," he said. "I think we've got the right people and what we add – if that's from South Australia or if that's from elsewhere, hopefully we can add good people and people who are going to work hard and want to do well for South Australia."
While most of his South Australian teammates will take a well-earned break following Thursday's Marsh One-Day Cup game against Victoria in Melbourne, their last game of the season, Head is among the host of Australians flying to the United Kingdom for the county season.
The left-hander will head to Sussex at the end of the month, having previously turned out for Worcestershire in 2018, to play in all formats for the club.
Head was SA's biggest bright spot this summer in scoring 893 runs at 68.69, including two centuries and a double-ton against Western Australia in which he unveiled some technical adjustments he made after losing his Test spot during the India series earlier this year.
"They were only little changes," Head explained of the tweaks that Australia coach Justin Langer and SA high-performance manager Tim Nielsen have assisted him with.
"We talked about where my hands were situated, where the bat had pointed – it was a little bit shut off – and (the changes) have opened up a bit of my leg-side game. It's probably made me a little freer outside off.
"I've got to keep it going in England now … hopefully I can keep that form going for Sussex."
Don't miss The Heat Repeat on Foxtel, coming April 7. The two-part documentary will also be shown on Kayo and cricket.com.au.