Infotainment Factory: The curious thinking that unearthed Aussie X-factor

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Sunday, 10 March 2019

The curious thinking that unearthed Aussie X-factor


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Until now, the biggest names to emerge from Australia’s 2012 Under-19s World Cup squad were Cameron Bancroft, Travis Head and Kurtis Patterson.

Overnight against India in Mohali, Ashton Turner added his name to that list, with a breathtaking innings of 84 not out from just 43 balls as Australia completed its highest ever run chase in ODI cricket, reaching the target of 359 with 13 balls to spare to level the series at 2-2 with one game to play.

To put the innings into context, it’s the third highest strike rate in ODI history by an Australian batsman who faced at least 35 balls. Only the enigmatic Glenn Maxwell stands above Turner’s effort, with 88 (39) against Afghanistan at the 2015 World Cup, and again with 93 (46) against Zimbabwe in 2014.

Certainly Steve Smith will have watched Turner’s efforts this morning with interest. The pair will be teammates next month for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, after Turner was picked up for what looks like a bargain price of $99,000 in the most recent auction.

Ashton Turner

Having not previously nominated for the IPL auction due to a succession of shoulder injuries, Turner admitted he was shocked when Rajasthan picked him up.

“It is so fickle,” Turner told the West Australian in December.

“I have no idea why they picked me.

“It has been something that I have wanted to do for a few years because the IPL is such a great T20 competition, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to go in any of the auctions because of the shoulder surgeries I’ve had to have at the end of the Australian summer.”

Shoulder injuries are a recurring theme in Turner’s career. In March 2018 he had his right shoulder repaired for the third time, an injury that may have been a blessing in disguise. Unable to bowl or throw for most of the 2017-18 season, he had plenty of time to focus on his batting.

The 26-year-old is clearly held in high regard by those who know. Vice-captain of Western Australia, he also filled in as captain of the Perth Scorchers while Mitchell Marsh was unavailable. Despite the Scorchers claiming the wooden spoon in BBL08, Turner impressed as their leading runscorer, and seventh overall in the competition, despite a disappointing second half of the competition where he managed double figures just once in six matches.

It was when batting at the death that Turner really made his name. Over the last two seasons of the BBL, Turner has not only scored more runs than any other player in overs 15-20, but he also has the best strike rate in that phase of the innings as well. It’s why, when he walked to the crease this morning with 130 runs required off 83 balls, he was the perfect man for the job.

Ashton Turner

Having made his international T20 debut in 2017, Turner played his first ODI against India last week, with coach Justin Langer comparing him favourably with some greats of the past.

“I remember when Mike Hussey came into Australian cricket, the thing that almost got him a shot in the one-day side was his running between his wickets,” Langer said.

“That might sound like the dumbest thing you've ever heard but you watch Ashton Turner, the way he runs between wickets is unbelievable.

“He's such a great athlete, it puts so much pressure (on the opposition).

“One of the hallmarks of great Australian teams, you think about Dean Jones and Michael Bevan and Michael Hussey, is the running between (wickets).

“It's a basic (skill) but we've also been talking about getting players who can finish off innings and he's shown that in what we can go off in Big Bash cricket, he's in great form.

“You see the way he finishes off an innings that he's a good thinker of the game like most of the great finishers and a really good leader, good person around the group.”

Turner’s innings, along with a century from Peter Handscomb, and 91 from Usman Khawaja, creates something of a nice headache for selectors. With Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis expected to be in the World Cup squad, as well as the returning David Warner and Steve Smith, all of a sudden there’s three players winning matches for Australia and pressing for spots.

Nobody needs reminding that winning matches has been something of a challenge for Australia in the 50-over format. Having won four of their last 26 matches, the side has now managed consecutive victories overseas for the first time since September 2016.

On Friday, chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns indicated he had “18 or 19 names” in his head for the World Cup, with the squad to be named by late-April.

Turner is presumably on that list. Another innings like we saw in Mohali, and he might just graduate from an Under-19s World Cup to the real thing later this year.

Until now, the biggest names to emerge from Australia’s 2012 Under-19s World Cup squad were Cameron Bancroft, Travis Head and Kurtis Patterson.

Overnight against India in Mohali, Ashton Turner added his name to that list, with a breathtaking innings of 84 not out from just 43 balls as Australia completed its highest ever run chase in ODI cricket, reaching the target of 359 with 13 balls to spare to level the series at 2-2 with one game to play.

To put the innings into context, it’s the third highest strike rate in ODI history by an Australian batsman who faced at least 35 balls. Only the enigmatic Glenn Maxwell stands above Turner’s effort, with 88 (39) against Afghanistan at the 2015 World Cup, and again with 93 (46) against Zimbabwe in 2014.

Certainly Steve Smith will have watched Turner’s efforts this morning with interest. The pair will be teammates next month for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, after Turner was picked up for what looks like a bargain price of $99,000 in the most recent auction.

Ashton Turner

Having not previously nominated for the IPL auction due to a succession of shoulder injuries, Turner admitted he was shocked when Rajasthan picked him up.

“It is so fickle,” Turner told the West Australian in December.

“I have no idea why they picked me.

“It has been something that I have wanted to do for a few years because the IPL is such a great T20 competition, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to go in any of the auctions because of the shoulder surgeries I’ve had to have at the end of the Australian summer.”

Shoulder injuries are a recurring theme in Turner’s career. In March 2018 he had his right shoulder repaired for the third time, an injury that may have been a blessing in disguise. Unable to bowl or throw for most of the 2017-18 season, he had plenty of time to focus on his batting.

The 26-year-old is clearly held in high regard by those who know. Vice-captain of Western Australia, he also filled in as captain of the Perth Scorchers while Mitchell Marsh was unavailable. Despite the Scorchers claiming the wooden spoon in BBL08, Turner impressed as their leading runscorer, and seventh overall in the competition, despite a disappointing second half of the competition where he managed double figures just once in six matches.

It was when batting at the death that Turner really made his name. Over the last two seasons of the BBL, Turner has not only scored more runs than any other player in overs 15-20, but he also has the best strike rate in that phase of the innings as well. It’s why, when he walked to the crease this morning with 130 runs required off 83 balls, he was the perfect man for the job.

Ashton Turner

Having made his international T20 debut in 2017, Turner played his first ODI against India last week, with coach Justin Langer comparing him favourably with some greats of the past.

“I remember when Mike Hussey came into Australian cricket, the thing that almost got him a shot in the one-day side was his running between his wickets,” Langer said.

“That might sound like the dumbest thing you've ever heard but you watch Ashton Turner, the way he runs between wickets is unbelievable.

“He's such a great athlete, it puts so much pressure (on the opposition).

“One of the hallmarks of great Australian teams, you think about Dean Jones and Michael Bevan and Michael Hussey, is the running between (wickets).

“It's a basic (skill) but we've also been talking about getting players who can finish off innings and he's shown that in what we can go off in Big Bash cricket, he's in great form.

“You see the way he finishes off an innings that he's a good thinker of the game like most of the great finishers and a really good leader, good person around the group.”

Turner’s innings, along with a century from Peter Handscomb, and 91 from Usman Khawaja, creates something of a nice headache for selectors. With Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis expected to be in the World Cup squad, as well as the returning David Warner and Steve Smith, all of a sudden there’s three players winning matches for Australia and pressing for spots.

Nobody needs reminding that winning matches has been something of a challenge for Australia in the 50-over format. Having won four of their last 26 matches, the side has now managed consecutive victories overseas for the first time since September 2016.

On Friday, chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns indicated he had “18 or 19 names” in his head for the World Cup, with the squad to be named by late-April.

Turner is presumably on that list. Another innings like we saw in Mohali, and he might just graduate from an Under-19s World Cup to the real thing later this year.

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