Blewett quits first-class cricket
Greg Blewett, who was a semi-regular member of the Australia team during the late 1990s, has retired from first-class cricket. Blewett, 35, will stay at South Australia as a high-performance batting coach while also pursuing his commentating career.
Blewett's run-scoring gradually declined over the last few years and his axing from the South Australia one-day team in December signalled the end of his 16-year state career. He had already lost his place in the Pura Cup side in 2005-06 as the Redbacks decided to blood some younger batsmen. Late last year, he vented his anger at being dumped from the side, calling the state's selectors "clowns".
Although he regrets that comment, Blewett said he would continue to "have issues" with certain individuals at the SACA. "I think ideally I could still play for a couple of years, physically," Blewett told The Advertiser. "I don't necessarily agree with a lot of things that have happened in the past 12 months but I accept them."
Despite playing 46 Tests and 32 ODIs from 1994-95 to 1999-2000, Blewett never quite cemented his spot in the national line-up. Nor could Australia decide exactly how to use him; he started his Test career at No. 6, had a moderately successful switch to No. 3, dropped back down to No. 6 and finished as an opener.
He did, however, write his name into the record books as soon as he burst onto the international scene aged 23 in the 1994-95 Ashes series. Blewett made 102 not out on debut at his home ground at Adelaide and followed up in the next Test with 115 at Perth, making him only the third Australian - the others were Bill Ponsford and Doug Walters - to score a century in each of his first two Tests.
Blewett established a reputation as a reliable member of the middle-order and entertained crowds with his fluent cuts and cover drives, and his dangerous hooks and pulls. There were a few too many unfulfilled starts from Blewett, but he certainly got it right at Johannesburg in 1996-97, when he and Steve Waugh together added 385.
It was the second-highest fifth-wicket partnership ever in Tests, falling just short of Don Bradman and Sid Barnes's 405-run effort. Blewett and Waugh batted right through the third day, which was the first time any pair had achieved the feat against South Africa. Blewett finished with 214, which was easily the high point of a Test career that yielded only four centuries.
There were times when Blewett struggled to keep out fast balls cutting in towards his stumps; that was evident when he was bowled for 99 twice in the 1997 calendar year. High-class spin bowling also caused him problems.
A string of low scores in India in 1997-98 lost him his Test place but he returned a year later and reinvented himself as an opening partner for Michael Slater after Mark Taylor's retirement. There were moments of success and a 269-run stand against Pakistan at Brisbane was the highlight. Although some commentators believed the pair would be Australia's openers for many years, Blewett did not reach triple-figures in the role and was replaced by Matthew Hayden on the 1999-2000 tour of New Zealand.
Blewett's Test career ended at the age of 28, and his 46 Tests brought him 2552 runs at 34.02. Surprisingly for a batsman who was such an excellent fieldsman and a better-than-average part-time medium-pace bowler, Blewett could not hold down a place in the Australia limited-overs team and from his 32 ODIs he averaged only 20.4 with the bat.
His failure to convert his starts at Test level frustrated Blewett. "I probably underachieved a bit for Australia," he said. "I think I was good enough to average 40 but didn't so that is a regret. It was something that frustrated me throughout my career. I got a lot of fifties."
Blewett, who spent time with Kent, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, made his first-class debut at the age of 20 in 1991-92, in a South Australia-Queensland clash that was also the first match for Hayden. He was part of the Redbacks' 1995-96 Sheffield Shield-winning side, scoring 72 in the final, and was a consistent accumulator for his state.
In 2000-01, he compiled 1162 Pura Cup runs at 68.35 as he tried in vain to work his way back into the Test side. He retained his national contract for one more season but his best years were behind him. Back, hand and thigh injuries limited his output in recent seasons and Blewett's first-class career ended on 232 matches, with 17,352 runs at 44.49.
Brydon Coverdale is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo