Australia A v South Africans, Sydney, 2nd day

Elegant Doolan states his Test case

Alex Doolan's silky century against the No. 1 team in the world at the SCG has only strengthened his case for Test selection

Daniel Brettig at the SCG

November 3, 2012

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Alex Doolan drives during his innings of 161, Australia A v South Africans, Sydney, 2nd day, November 3, 2012
Alex Doolan: "Coming to terms with the fact we were playing the world's best team was my biggest battle" © Getty Images
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Alex Doolan has always looked like a Test batsman. Possessing an attractive, languid technique that is nonetheless simple and compact enough to keep out high-quality bowling, Doolan has caused many observers to wonder how well he might perform if the Tasmania badge on his green batting helmet were to become the Australian coat of arms.

Until recently Doolan had not been stacking up the kinds of numbers that might have been expected of a player with his purity of method, as a tally of three first-class centuries in four summers entering this season can attest to. This season, however, Doolan is pushing his name ever closer to the front of an admittedly thin batting queue, and a polished, unbeaten 161 for Australia A against the South Africans at the SCG may be hard to argue with if the selectors find themselves having to cover for injuries to Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson.

At 26, Doolan is the right age to be graduating from first-class to international ranks, and in making 491 runs at 122.75 in four long-form appearances so far this season he is putting together the sort of hot streak that catapulted his Tasmanian team-mate, Ed Cowan, into the Test side last summer. Following his innings at the SCG, Doolan cautiously hoped he would be noticed.

"I certainly hope it's talked about," he said. "There are plenty of quality players in that dressing room at the moment. There's Phil Hughes who has got 19 first-class centuries and three Test centuries, two against South Africa, so I think he'd be right in the firing line as far as next man in, but who knows. Hopefully it puts my name up there and hopefully people are starting to talk.

"Coming to terms with the fact we were playing the world's best team was my biggest battle, and overcoming some nerves to a certain extent, but as far as reaching my highest score it was just a matter of batting and continuing to play in partnership with Tim Paine at the time.

"I feel confident, I still feel there's a bit of work to be done before that chance [to play for Australia] may arise, but I certainly feel confident enough to hold my own out there."

Doolan has been highly regarded in Tasmania for some time, taking possession of the state team's No. 3 batting spot over the past several seasons. When batting with Ponting against a full-strength Victorian attack at the MCG last week, his captain George Bailey noted that Doolan lost little by comparison with the man who has 13,346 Test runs.

 
 
"When those two were going together he didn't look outclassed; when I was batting with Ricky it felt like we were playing two different sports, but Dools and he were just on another level." Tasmania captain George Bailey on Alex Doolan batting with Ricky Ponting
 

"When those two were going together he didn't look outclassed; when I was batting with Ricky it felt like we were playing two different sports, but Dools and he were just on another level," Bailey said. "Dools is a bit of a cricket nuffy and the first couple of times Ricky did come back [to the state side] Dools was the unfortunate one who made way. The fact now he has had the chance to play a couple of games with him has been great for him.

"He made beautiful 20s and 30s and 40s last year, the year before he made a couple of hundreds. It's turning those starts into big scores, particularly at No. 3, that's going to make him of real interest to the selectors. In terms of his game and how classically, technically correct he is, I see he has just got so much time, and that's something the selectors would be excited to see."

As for why he had found such a rich batting vein to mine this time around, Doolan said he had grown more relaxed and confident about his place with Tasmania, and now tended to worry less about his innings' before he actually had the chance to play them. This in turn made him fresher in mind and body when he did go out to bat.

"Maybe just another year in the system and another year of feeling more comfortable at the crease has helped," Doolan said. "As far as mental preparation goes, it's just about trying to stay relaxed; if you worry too much before you get out there you're exhausted by the time you take your spot at the crease. I don't think I'm doing anything too differently to last year, but it's certainly working this year."

It is working so well, in fact, that if he keeps his form up Doolan may soon go from looking like a Test batsman to actually becoming one.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by VivGilchrist on (November 4, 2012, 4:15 GMT)

No rush. Look at Forest. He had HALF a good season, finds himself in the one-day team and came within a bees of playing Test cricket. Now he's back to his usual self and averaging 32 in FC cricket. Let Dools prove himself and EARN the baggygreen.

Posted by Meety on (November 4, 2012, 4:15 GMT)

@Chris_P on (November 03 2012, 22:23 PM GMT) - I do think the way he (Doolan) scored the runs has been impressive - then again so was S Marsh!

Posted by   on (November 4, 2012, 3:25 GMT)

If he plays another big classy hundred in the next shield game, expect him to be first pick if someone falls out of OZ top order

Posted by Wozza-CY on (November 4, 2012, 3:07 GMT)

@peeeeet- It's hard to work out why they haven't picked Dussey before now in tests when he has been in top form, but I doubt whether they will pick him now. Doolan has many positives i.e. as the article says his the right age to graduate, he is a specialist no.3 who doesn't have to worry about bowling, he seems a long format specialist. Like others, I hope he has a productive & consistent season. His competitors for Oz positions i.e. Khawaja, Hughes & Burns need to do the same.

Posted by Chris_P on (November 3, 2012, 22:23 GMT)

To date, his season has been very solid. He is one to look out for to see if he can continue this into next season. Of course getting a form run occurs all the time, the challenge for him is to repeat it next season & the one after. That is when he will be ready to step up, not before. And to date, his recent seasons' form simply don't justify him as a viable long term option, yet. Good luck to him & really hope he continues his run.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (November 3, 2012, 22:17 GMT)

As RandyOz would say, the 'cupboard is bare', there is simply no top talent coming through in the batting department.

Posted by Meety on (November 3, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

I agree with the comments that are not wanting to rush Doolan. I am happy that after this unbeaten ton, Doolan's FC batting ave is almost 40, I'd like to see him maintain & improve that. The bits I have seen of him on TV have been really impressive - to the extent that I think Bailey's observations of him are spot on, despite the fact he is a team mate! @hris on (November 03 2012, 15:34 PM GMT) - re: Purple patch; always something that you have to consider. That said there was an old saying in Oz cricket - that you are only ever 5 innings away from a Baggy Greeen. I think Burns has been more consistant, but not as assured as Doolan this season, & does have the better career numbers. I think Khawaja has looked really good, but I'd like to see him actually hit a few tons this summer. That said - if there was an injury (or really poor form) amongst our top 6 - I agree with Beertjie, Ussie is the man!

Posted by hris on (November 3, 2012, 15:34 GMT)

no doolan please. he's just going through a bit of a purple patch akin to what cowan had last year. Neither of them are good enough for international cricket. I would prefer to have Khawaja at 3 and Burns at 4, if watson and ponting miss out. And more importantly, these guys will eventually come in anyway when ponting and huss retire which should be soon, 1 year max.

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 14:51 GMT)

i think burns and doolan should be picked only after the end of the first class season. last year we picked peter forrest too quickly after 5 games only and he is strugling to find form ths season, that's why we need players to find consistancy for full season then only considered for international cricket. alex doolan is definately going to be the no 3 australia batsmen for sure. burns will be playing all formats of cricket because of his ryobi odi and shield record is fantastic.

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 13:39 GMT)

Its funny how blokes just pop up like this. I hope he keeps it up. Confidence can be all it takes for some guys to take it up to a new level and its nice to see he has found it. I think we can all be happy with a Tassie batsman at no.3!

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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