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March 12, 2005
When the Australian selectors decide that a player is past his sell-by date, there is usually no way back for the poor unfortunate, no matter how weighty his reputation may be. In recent years, Steve Waugh and Ian Healy have both felt that ominous tap on the shoulder, and when Michael Bevan was unceremoniously dumped from their one-day plans last summer, it was widely assumed that his reign as the undisputed master of limited-overs batting had been brought to an inglorious end.
The man himself, however, has other ideas. At the age of 34, and reinvigorated by a move from New South Wales to Tasmania, Bevan has embarked on a spree of run-scoring that not even the most inscrutable Aussie selector can afford to turn a blind eye to. His 115 in Tasmania's current Pura Cup fixture against Western Australia at Perth was his eighth century in nine first-class fixtures this season, and has carried him past 1400 runs before any other batsman has topped the 1000-mark.
Perhaps more significantly, Bevan was also the first to pass 500 runs in the ING Cup, Australia's premier one-day tournament, and given the insulting manner in which he had his Cricket Australia contract withdrawn last summer, he retains a burning desire to prove his former paymasters wrong, and force his way back into the reckoning for the 2007 World Cup.
Bevan's eight hundreds in a season is a Pura Cup record and, after his latest effort, he told the Sun Herald newspaper: "I'm a better player now than when I was in the Australian side, no doubt about it. The World Cup is a long way off but I don't think it's out of the question. I hope it isn't."
Tasmania is an unfashionable team when it comes to international recognition - for all that the current Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, hails from the state - and given that Bevan's contract expires next year, he has not ruled out a return to New South Wales for the 2006-07 season, when he would hope to thrust himself firmly back into the spotlight
"It's nice to know that at this stage of my life I'm hitting the ball the best I've ever hit it," Bevan told the same newspaper. "I still feel I'm continuing to improve, which is a great feeling to have at a later stage of your career. If I've a chance of playing in [the World Cup], I've just got to keep improving even more and continue to score runs and keep enjoying my cricket and see where all that leaves me."
If a recall proves beyond even Bevan's considerable abilities, then he instead has an eye on moving into coaching.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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