If you tuned in to the three One Day Internationals between Australia and the West Indies over the past week, firstly, hats off to you.
It’s hard to get the juices flowing for relatively meaningless white ball cricket in front of poor crowds three years out from the next ODI World Cup with half the Australian team resting.
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But if you did watch Australia’s 3-0 clean sweep over the Windies, you would have noticed a new Aussie paceman tearing through their line-up with understated ease.
Xavier Bartlett took his first international wicket with a textbook outswinger at the MCG and finished the series with figures of 4/17 and 4/21.
He was named player of the series despite being rested for the second game, with team management cautious of a recent back injury that led to a lengthy lay-off.
Barlett was seriously impressive in his debut international series, and might have even leapfrogged the much hyped Lance Norris in the next-cab-off-the-rank pecking order.
Morris also made his long await international debut in the ODIs and took two wickets from two matches.
He suffered a left side strain in Australia’s win in Canberra and cut a forlorn figure in the team dugout.
The West Australian will undergo scans and the injury will likely rule him out of the Test squad for the Test series against New Zealand beginning later this month.
Bartlett has somehow flown under the radar for club and country in his breakout summer, but it’s high time we put some respect on his name.
He was the leading wicket taker (20) in the Big Bash and helped the Brisbane Heat go all the way with fellow paceman Spencer Johnson, who was picked up in the Indian Premier League for A$1.78 million.
Bartlett’s ability to swing the ball has Aussie cricket pundits hopeful he could soon play Test cricket and do some damage in the 2027 Ashes in England.
“My word. He would be,” Mark Waugh said on Fox Cricket.
“You don’t see many genuine swing bowlers in world cricket these days. They are few and far between, good quality swing bowlers.”
“I think he is good,” Steve Smith said of Bartlett.
“I remember facing him probably five or six years ago, I think, in the Gabba nets before a Test match and I remember the seam coming down and thought, ‘Gee. This guy presents a beautiful seam’, which you don’t often see.
“I just remembered it randomly and then to see him come out in this series and bowl the way he did, it was outstanding. He presented that seam that I spoke about and swung it and got the rewards. It looks like he has a bright future.”
Bartlett and Morris are both 25 years old and staying injury free might be the golden ticket to a baggy green when the Big Three of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood retire or need a rest.
That’s something Jhye Richardson is all too aware of as he continues to battle niggling injuries.
Richardson, Scott Boland, Joe Mennie, Chadd Sayers and Michael Neser are some of the pace bowlers who have struggled to get a look in during the Cummins-Starc-Hazlewood era.
In a sign of just how hard it is to stay in Australian team, James Pattinson (21 Tests) is the last paceman to reach double figures in appearances.
Could Bartlett or Johnson be the ones to end that struggle? Time will tell.
Australia are expected to name their Test squad for the two-Test series against New Zealand this week.
Perennial 12th man Boland was cleared of major damage to his knee after he left a Sheffield Shield game on the weekend, with scans revealing “acute inflammatory signs around his patella tendon”.