Australian Cricket Awards
Sutherland joins prestigious list with Bradman award
Victoria seamer Will Sutherland has gotten a glimpse of the big time from his state teammates and a stint with Australia A to sharpen his resolve ahead of the resumption of the first-class season
5 February 2021, 01:00 PM AEST
Victoria allrounder Will Sutherland does not need to look far for what the future might hold as the latest recipient of the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year Award.
Sutherland, 21, is the 22nd winner of the prestigious honour awarded to the leading player who is under the age of 24 and who has not played more than 10 first-class matches before the voting period began.
Previous winners include Brett Lee, Shane Watson, David Warner and – just two years ago – Will Pucovski, Sutherland's Victoria teammate who has gone on to represent Australia in Test cricket.
Seeing Pucovski perform at domestic level, rise through the ranks and earn a Baggy Green has given Sutherland a glimpse of what can be achieved.
"It's a massive honour, massive privilege to win this award," Sutherland told cricket.com.au.
"I had a look at some of the names who had won it and it was pretty amazing to see.
"Even Will Pucovski, seeing what he's been able to do the next couple of years after winning it is pretty eye opening.
"So hopefully I can just keep doing what I've been doing and see what happens."
The right-armer finished the 2019-20 Marsh Sheffield Shield season on fire, taking 15 wickets at 15.8 runs apiece with two exhilarating five-wicket hauls.
He claimed 5-42 against Queensland at the Gabba to give Victoria a commanding first-innings lead and backed it up with 6-67 at the Adelaide Oval to complete a comprehensive win over the Redbacks and take out player-of-the-match honours.
When Victoria's Shield season finally got underway this summer, the right-armer added six more wickets to his first-class tally in two drawn matches in Adelaide, where Pucovski piled on the runs to earn Test squad selection and a debut in the third Test against India at the SCG.
Sutherland had a crack at the touring Indians too, playing for Australia A at the SCG in a day-night match in December which Pucovski would have also played in had he not suffered a concussion in the match prior.
Using the pink ball, Sutherland took 1-87 from 25 overs as the match petered out to a draw. While he didn't put in the performance he was hoping for, being around his state peers gave him a taste of what representing his country at the highest level might be like.
"That was an amazing experience," he said.
"Seeing what India were able to do against the Australian team showed how good of an outfit they were.
"To be able to play against them showed to me what was required to at that next level.
"That was a big privilege to play in that game and learn a few things off those opposition players and even my teammates.
"It didn't go as well as I would have liked but it still showed it's not that far away and if I can keep chipping away in Shield cricket than anything is possible in the future.
"That was certainly an eye-opening experience and very grateful for that one."
The Australia A experience was also the first time Sutherland mixed with Shield rivals, and the reception he received from his new teammates was vastly different from what he has copped as an opponent.
"There were a few old guys in there that you're a little bit scared of, but you realise they're good blokes as well," he said.
"They're not sledging you on the field like they are in Shield cricket.
"It showed to me that all the Aussie cricketers are good blokes and it was really good to play alongside some of those guys."
While the A game gave him a sneak peek into the future, Sutherland says he is at his best when he is focused on the present.
This summer, he has had to shoulder more responsibility in Victoria's pace attack after Peter Siddle and Chris Tremain moved interstate and Andrew Fekete retired.
But he has been able to use the knowledge gleaned from his former teammates and current colleagues Scott Boland and James Pattinson to make the transition a smooth one for Victoria and first-year coach Chris Rogers.
"It's been a challenge for sure," he said. "We lost three pretty senior bowlers there but at the same time it's a big opportunity for me a few of the other younger guys to step up.
"I'm quite lucky, I had a bit more confidence in my position so I knew that I'd locked that spot down as a bowler in that attack. So I could really just go out there and play and look to implement some of the things those guys taught me over the years.
"I was lucky enough to be able to do that for the start of the season. We've got a long season to go but hopefully keep on going OK."
When the Shield season resumes, Sutherland and Pucovski are set to team up again and who knows, in a few years in might be the allrounder who is sharing his international experiences at training.
"Will gets back to Junction Oval all the time and loves chatting to the younger guys," Sutherland said.
"He gives quite a bit about how it's been with the Test side, which is pretty cool to hear.
"He won this award a few years ago and he's not too much older than me so it's pretty exciting to see what's possible."