Australia selectors finally unleashed the “wild thing” Lance Morris but it was the lesser hyped and more mild thing, Queenslander Xavier Bartlett who made a stunning start to what could be a lengthy international career at the MCG on Friday.
While the grandstands were only sparsely filled on a perfectly sunny afternoon, Bartlett got the small crowd buzzing with a wicket on the third ball of his opening over, and two more in his memorable opening spell of 3-10 across six precision overs in his ODI debut.
He and Morris were the first debutantes to open the bowling for Australia sinde Alan Hurst and Jeff Thomson in 1975.
Bartlett, the leading wicket-taker in the Big Bash for the title-winning Brisbane Heat, could have had four wickets too if stand-in skipper Steve Smith hadn’t baulked at an LBW review on the final ball of his first over,
Three red lights on replay proved only a short-lived setback however as the 25-year-old followed up rattling the stumps of Windies opener Justin Greaves by nicking-off Alick Athanaze in his second over before finishing his dream debut spell by removing skipper Shai Hope to give Bartlett figures of 3-8.
Given his cap by Heat and Queensland teammate Marnus Labuschagne in the team huddle before the game, Bartlett helped reduce the visitors to 3-55 after 12 overs before handing the Shane Warne Stand end to Cameron Green, who collected the next wicket to fall.
The West Indies impressed everyone with their fight in a shock Test win over Australia at the Gabba but in the absence of 10 members of that line-up, the white-ball resistance was not as strong and they were 4-59 at the first drinks break.
Bartlett’s rise to prominence came after he sat out of the first half of the domestic season for Queensland to prioritise the Big Bash after returning from a club stint in the UK with a back stress injury.
He showed his white-ball prowess taking 20 BBL wickets on the Heat’s march to glory, earning his national call up in the absence of frontline quicks including Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood, and a pre-series injury to Jhye Richardson who had to withdraw from the Australian squad,
Bartlett 1-1 off first over huge LBW shout turned down last ball. Replays showed it was out, wasn;t reviewed by the Aussies, denied a two-wicket over to start international career.
FINALLY FOR WILD THING
After being handed his first international cap, West Australian tearaway Morris conceded to having endured an “interesting” past 12 months being part of Test squads, without playing,
The 25-year-old didn’t snare himself a wicket after taking the new ball, but was happy just to finally be wearing the green and gold.
“It’s been 18 months of being in that little bit of limbo, being around the squad,” he told Fox Cricket.
“It was interesting. But it was also amazing and a learning experience and it makes that transition in to playing a little bit easier.”
Morris also declared his intention “bring a bit of pace to the game” with instructions fro selectors clear,
“I won’t try and change too much and hope it comes off,” he said.
BIG PRIZE FOR NEW STAR
The injury-enforced absence of breakthrough star Shamar Joseph was a hurdle the West Indies needed to overcome at the MCG, but his worth to their team has been franked with the brilliant young fast bowler given a contract upgrade.
Joseph, 24, is now tied to a retainer deal, similar to Cricket Australia’s central contracts, having previously only held a franchise deal, given he hadn’t played international cricket before his stunning Test debut against Australia.
“His extraordinary talent and steadfast dedication serve as the cornerstone of our team’s recent triumph at the Gabba, and such promise merits its due recognition,” Enoch Lewis, who chairs Cricket West Indies’ development and performance committee, said.
“Shamar has not just been rewarded with a retained contract he has earned it.”