Amid the hoopla of Australia naming its 15-player squad for the upcoming Ashes series against England, Nic Maddinson remains the forgotten man of Test cricket.
The 29-year-old – soon to turn 30 – has been named in the Australia A squad but he can consider himself unlucky not to be digging the baggy green out of his closet ahead of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba on December 8.
The swashbuckling left-hander from NSW’s south coast seems to have had his cards marked since a sole three-Test debut summer in 2016.
Maddinson was thrown to the wolves when, badly out of form, he debuted under Adelaide Oval lights and was bowled by South African quick Kagiso Rabada for a duck with a hooping pink ball that could have caused even the greats to come unstuck.
He got two more chances after that – playing the Tests against Pakistan that summer – but failed in those, too, and hasn’t been seen in cricket’s biggest arena again.
Now, though, it’s difficult to fathom how his Victorian teammate Marcus Harris will don the baggy green against England in a few weeks’ time and Maddinson won’t.
The latter boasts a Sheffield Shield average of 83.33 this season, and his last match featured a 128 and a 33 against his former team, NSW. In that same game, Harris was out for 1 and 0 against the Blues.
Maddinson was the highest Shield run scorer in 2019-20, amassing 780 in total, and was named the joint player of the season, alongside Moises Henriques. That was after he withdrew from an Australia A squad that November, citing mental health.
At the start of season 2018-19 – having left NSW to join Victoria that year – Maddinson scored 162 on debut for his new state. A Jhye Richardson short ball in the second innings broke the batter’s arm, cruelling any hope Maddinson had that summer of a Test recall.
Now he’s fit, firing, and in the right headspace to play for Australia again, according to Victoria coach Chris Rogers.
“Just maturity. It’s one of those things, you get to the second half of your career and you start to probably look at things differently,” Rogers said of Maddinson today.
“You think more about your game, how you’re structuring your innings, all those kind of things. You probably balance your personal life out a bit as well.
Nic Maddinson’s Test debut ends badly at the hands of Kagiso Rabada.
“He just seems really calm, that’s the thing that stands out for me. From the innings I’ve seen this year he’s been completely calm from ball one, and he’s looked like a senior player, an old pro, and that doesn’t come easily.
“That takes a lot of time and experience, and he’s been fantastic. He has led the way with the batting on the field.”
Maddinson has been batting No.4 for Victoria but is an opener by trade, and could easily replace Harris as David Warner’s partner against England if asked to.
Harris, also 29, has played 10 Tests and averages only 23.77. His first-class average is 39.76 compared to Maddinson’s 40.03.
After scoring his most recent century, Maddinson declared himself ready to return to the Test fold.
“The experiences I’ve had over the past couple of years, I did take a couple of breaks from cricket to get a few things right and I feel like I’m in a really good place with that,” he told SEN.
“Since then as well I’ve delisted from NSW and ended up coming down to Victoria to play the last three seasons, I’ve learned a lot through that experience and probably changed the way I play a little bit as well.
“It wasn’t a very successful stint at Test cricket but I understand that environment a little bit better and I think now I’m mature enough to know that I can deal with those things.
“Obviously knowing that’s the end goal for me as well – I want to be playing Test cricket again so of course you’re going to have interest and be thinking about that at different stages.”
Australian selector George Bailey says the tour match between Australia A and the England Lions will have no bearing on the squad picked for the Ashes, meaning even if Maddinson performs well there, he won’t be lining up at the Gabba on December 8.
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