If batsmen and fast bowlers have been given massive importance in cricket all this while, times have changed now. The transition began with the rise of T20s in the era where Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODIs) had dominated forever. The Indian Premier League (IPL) has played a huge role in the success of the T20s. The shortest format of the game has opened doors for the all-rounders to take the centre stage. These players, who can effectively operate as two players, come as a blessing in disguise for a team, especially for its captain.
When all-rounders and the IPL are being discussed together, there is one name that would surely be a talking point – Ben Cutting. With very less international experience with the Australian cricket team, Cutting is more known as the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s player who won the team their maiden IPL title in 2016. After warming the bench for almost the entire season last year, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) considered, including a fast bowling all-rounder for the final few matches and that decision happened to be incredible for them.
Cutting and other Sunrisers’ players play under the leadership of another Australian, David Warner. The atmosphere in the SRH’s dressing room is one of the best among the other teams and there is no secret behind their positive results. All they do is to communicate well. If there are issues, they are talked and sorted out immediately.
Speaking to CricketSoccer about playing under Warner, Cutting said, “I have been playing a lot of cricket with David ever since I was 18 or 19, with and against him and I know his game very well and more importantly, he has captained stronger. It’s all about communication, that’s where I think the team gets on very well.
All the players from different countries have gelled up really well. Their good bond has done wonders for Sunrisers in the IPL. “The boys have a blast in the dressing room. It’s the way the guys interact with each other, enjoy each other’s company and the guys like David and Murali keep steering each other. There is always fun rolling in the dressing room, which makes the atmosphere light”.
Cutting, who played just four matches in IPL 2016, was picked for SRH’s opener; the match was against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). There were no surprises as he was the Player of the Match in the final that SRH had won against the same opponents. At 190 for 4 in 18.4 overs, Cutting walked in to bat. Similar to the IPL 2016 final, he finished SRH’s innings by smashing the final ball, bowled by his countryman Shane Watson, for a six.
Although he went wicketless, he managed to chip in some crucial runs towards the end and SRH for the second time in a row triumphed against RCB. When asked if his Man of the Match performance in the IPL 2016 final has ensured a sealed position for him in SRH’s playing XI in the current season, Cutting said, “No, not really. What happened 12 months ago or probably six games ago is a different story. It keeps changing with every IPL game and it is no different here”.
Unfortunate for him, Cutting’s words came true. After he played the first four matches in the ongoing season, he was dropped from SRH’s fifth game, which was against Cutting’s Australian teammate, Glenn Maxwell. He was dropped for Afghan spinner and all-rounder, Mohammad Nabi.
SRH prior to the 2017 season bought the Afghanistan spin duo of Nabi and Rashid Khan in the auction. The latter made his debut in the opening match of the season and with nine wickets in five games, the 18-year-old has been an instant hit. Talking about the leg break spinner, Cutting said, “He is my new favourite player in world cricket. I love watching him bowl and love watching him bat. He swings his bat hard, tries to hit every ball for a six. I think that’s very exciting”.
Meanwhile, Cutting, at the moment, has been aiming to get back to the Australian cricket team as soon as possible. He has a great chance to impress the Cricket Australia selectors with a good show in the IPL 2017 but rarely does a selection happen for an ICC tournament considering one’s numbers in the T20 league. And, Cutting, who last played in the Australian colours in 2014, is aware of that. “I wish that was the case but probably no. The Australian team right now is pretty settled”.
The Queenslander gained recognition when as a 19-year-old when he was given a Test call during the 2006- 07 Ashes. Sadly, he was just the bench member. A total of 10 years have passed and he is yet to make his Test debut. He has been struck by numerous injuries ever since he began his career in cricket and that was the major reason why Cutting lost his pace.
“In the last 12-18 months, I have brought my pace up again so it is now not where it was when I first started playing cricket. More importantly, my injuries have dropped right down and I feel more comfortable bowling fast now”, Cutting added.
Since the IPL 2017 is at the initial stages and SRH have played just five games so far, the defending champions have a lot of time to try different options and combinations of Indian and overseas players. Cutting will definitely have a few more games on his plate, provided he does not injure himself. On a good day at work, he can be an excellent partner to Bhuveneshwar Kumar to bowl the death overs. Let’s see if Cutting gets picked for SRH’s next fixture which is against Delhi Daredevils on Wednesday.