“Jhye Richardson is hardly the bowler you would think he is. Weighing just over 70 kilograms and standing at just 178 cms, almost 20 cms shorter than Starc, he gives off the persona of a shy kid, still finding his place amongst the highly competitive Western Australian team”.
Shocked. Disappointed. Hurt. Heartbroken.
Shocked. Over the moon. Surprised. Delighted.
The reigning Sheffield Shield Player of the Year winner and the 12th man in the recently concluded Ashes Test match at the Adelaide Oval. 246 wickets in 59 matches at an average of 23.56.
21-year old with just five first-class games against his name. Frail. Inexperienced. 21 wickets in his short career. An average that touches 30.
Upon one glance, it would almost be spontaneous to pick out the experienced player ahead of an important overseas assignment. You have seen a similar bowler, Vernon Philander wreaking through the opponent batsmen, aided adequately by the conditions on offer, and you are hopeful that swing bowler Chadd Sayers will be able to manage just that. Yes, the trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are the first choice picks in the team, but when you have already shortlisted a player and given him hopes of finally wearing the Baggy Green, to snatch it away in a jiffy hardly seems fair.
But cricket is just that. A cruel world, where justice hardly prevails; where talent needs to wait to finally get noticed. And even when you are assured of your worth, a slightly younger bowler leaves one and all spell-bound and fast-track his way to a spot you rightly deserved. With a smile, you congratulate him but deep down, you know it is all unfair. Very, very unfair.
Jhye Richardson is hardly the bowler you would think he is. Weighing just over 70 kilograms and standing at just 178 cms, almost 20 cms shorter than Starc, he gives off the persona of a shy kid, still finding his place amongst the highly competitive Western Australian team. For someone who chose the route towards fast bowling almost on second thoughts- to create a distinction from his highly skilled spin-bowling brother, Richardson’s first-class debut and his successive wickets, deserve due credit.
Australian spearhead Mitchell Johnson was quick to congratulate his younger Western Australian mate when he turned out for the team for the first time against Queensland in 2016, predicting a promising a bright future ahead.
So what exactly sets him apart from the others? Why has a never-heard-before name cast aside a more illustrious and a consistent member, sending Cricket Australia into a frantic tizzy, wherein they have had to clarify and re-clarify his selection in the team? Is he so talented; so promising?
Not only did he impress Steven Smith with his express pace and movement in his debut match against England last week, he also wowed the selectors with his ability to constantly rack up the deliveries at 145kmph per hour. Not being naturally tall failed to prove a hindrance to the youngster, who instead of brooding over that fact, chose to work on his rhythm and his technique instead.
“I think me bowling fast is just a combination of having the right rhythm and having the right body parts going in the right direction. Having a front leg that’s locked and being able to get my weight over my front leg is probably the main one that I think contributes to me being able to bowl fast with this height.”
Prior to the Big Bash season, Richardson picked up 17 wickets in four matches and against a full-strength New South Wales team, unleashed his venom and his fiery aggression with good control and slippery spells and an indomitable spirit. Right from the start, when he was discouraged into the strenuous world of fast-bowling, the yearning to prove them wrong never left him. Yes, he knew that it would be harder for him to recover from injuries and that his body would have to take more amounts of the toll than taller bowlers have to, but the challenges only spurred him on further.
“You always want to prove people wrong and I think that’s been my attitude from the start. If someone is going to beat me down, why not prove them wrong. There’s going to be a lot of people that put me down for not having the experience at this sort of level but if I can go in being as confident as I am right now I think I’ll be able to get the job done.”
Going by the Australian Test team’s policy to intimidate oppositions through sheer pace, a major reason why they rushed back James Pattinson from injury in the third Test match against the Proteas in 2014, Richardson’s pick was not an unexpected one. But, move over to the world of Sayers, who was not even informed of his omission and received the brutal news of his axing through social media, one realises that cricket can be a little fairer and a little evener. But till then, one can only sit back and explore the possibilities that young Richardson will bring on board.