Australia have recalled Dan Christian, the 38-year old all-rounder, to the Australian T20 side for the tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh.
It’s his first international call-up since 2017 and he was one of six extra players who were recently added to the squad, with the Aussie Selectors surely expecting a few to drop out if the IPL resumes during, or just after, the tours.
As it happens, Christian himself is under contract at the Royal Challengers Bangalore on big money and may fancy a crack at winning a first-ever IPL title.
But don’t discount the possibility of Christian sticking with the national side and getting himself on the plane to the T20 World Cup. If he does, it’s a great move for both him and Australia.
He’s 38 years old, he’s played over 600 matches of professional cricket and in T20 alone, he’s played 350 matches at domestic level and 16 for Australia.
You’ll struggle to find many players in the world with that level of experience, even if his 35 appearances for Australia in total aren’t that many.
And it’s not just playing the games. Christian’s T20 career has taken him to Australia, England, the Caribbean, India and Pakistan. He’s represented 20 different teams including his country and has played against everyone, everywhere.
You just can’t put a price on that level of experience and it will be invaluable to the team.
When Christian signed for the Sydney Sixers at the start of the 2020-21 BBL season, the joke doing the rounds was that the Sixers were nailed-on winners simply because they had…Christian.
The significance wasn’t lost on us here at Bet India. This is why (in addition to plenty of other factors, of course) we tipped the Sixers at 6.5 before the tournament started.
Two months later and Christian and the Sixers were crowned champions.
Incredibly, it was Christian’s 11th T20 title at the domestic level. Among his other titles were wins in the BBL with the Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades, two English titles with Notts and yet another English title at Hampshire, that one just over 10 years ago.
A winning mentality can be contagious and it’s exactly what this Australian side, poor in T20 World Cups over the years, are crying out for.
Australia have produced some cracking white ball all-rounders over the years with Michael Bevan, Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson three of the better ones.
But they’ve struggled in this regard recently. Mitch Marsh keeps getting injured, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis only bowl in certain conditions and others like Daniel Sams aren’t experienced at international level.
It opens the door for Christian to come in as a sixth bowler and bat at six or seven.
In the words of Greg Shipperd, his coach at the Sixers:
“It’s a unique format of the game and he’s got a unique skillset as a strong finisher through the middle and at the back-end with the bat, he’s got the capability to bowl a couple of intelligent, player-specific overs right across the three phases with the ball,”
This is a man who has 270 T20 wickets to his name, taking a wicket every 20 balls on average. Yeah, an economy rate of 8.44 is a bit high but still acceptable for a batting all-rounder.
And that’s without even mentioning his role as a finisher.
All roles are important in cricket but just about every successful side has one thing in common: they have a world-class finisher.
That’s a middle-order batsman who knows how to master the last few overs of the innings, particularly when chasing stiff totals in matches that fluctuate one way and another.
Look at the sort of impact that players like Kieron Pollard for the West Indies and Mumbai, Andre Russell for the Windies and KKR, or Ravi Jadeja for India and CSK have on games.
The ‘finisher’ is a very specialised role, especially when chasing. He needs to be able to rotate the strike well, run twos when on offer, hit regular boundaries to stay in the game, smash sixes when the situation gets desperate and also coach the batsman at the other end, who tends to be a bowler or another all-rounder.
And all the while the finisher has to work out what they need, keep an eye on the required run rate and know which bowlers to target.
Latest Australia T20 World Cup odds
But arguably his greatest asset of all is his cricketing brain. It’s what allows him to work out where the gaps are when batting and when he needs to accelerate the scoring and which areas he needs to bowl at depending on the batsman on strike.
Put all of this together and it’s not so much a case of trying to get Christian in the side as it is one of realising you can’t leave him out.
There are a few issues with this Australia side, who are 6.0 third-favourites with Betway, just behind England and India. But they’ll certainly increase their chances by having the magic man Christian in the team.
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