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Players to watch this season

The 2011-12 Australian summer begins on Sunday with a one-day match between Queensland and Victoria, before the opening Sheffield Shield round starts on Tuesday. ESPNcricinfo looks at some of the young men to keep an eye on this season

Brydon Coverdale

October 7, 2011

Comments: 32 | Text size: A | A

Pat Cummins in his delivery stride, New South Wales v Queensland, Big Bash, Sydney, January 29, 2011
Patrick Cummins is in Australia's squad in the shorter formats but can his body stand up to a full season of first-class cricket? © Getty Images

New South Wales

Patrick Cummins
At 18, Cummins is one of the most exciting prospects in Australia, and is set to make his international debut in the limited-overs games in South Africa later this month. Despite having taken only nine first-class wickets, Cummins' pace excited Australia's selectors so much that they gave him a central contract this year. But he missed the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe due to a back strain and the key question surrounding Cummins this summer is how his young body will handle a full season of first-class cricket. If he gets through without a problem, a baggy green won't be far away.

Nic Maddinson
As if New South Wales don't have enough top-class openers, they discovered another one last summer. Maddinson, now 19, scored a century opening the batting in his first-class debut and added a second hundred later in the season. It was enough to earn him Australia A selection and he made 63 in one of his two one-day innings on the tour of Zimbabwe, before a calf strain ruled him out of the first-class matches. A classical left-hander with a cool head, Maddinson has every chance of following his flatmate Usman Khawaja into Australia's Test team in the future.


Ben Cutting
Two years ago, Cutting topped the Sheffield Shield wicket list with 46 victims at 23.91 and he could have pushed for international selection during the following year but for an ankle injury that was so serious it required surgery. He managed only one Sheffield Shield game last summer but has been named in Queensland's squad for their opening matches this season. A seamer who gets good bounce from the pitch, Cutting, 24, will be keen to cut back into Australia's pace-bowling queue with a strong season for the Bulls.

Joe Burns
At 21, Burns is - along with the more established Chris Lynn - the future of Queensland's middle order. A right-hand batsman whose talent was identified early, it took until the tail-end of last summer for Burns to force his way into the state team. When he did, he showed his hunger with an unbeaten 140 in his first game, the third-highest score on debut by a Queensland player. Another half-century followed in his third match and he finished the season averaging 70.25. In the Queensland side from the start of this summer, Burns could progress in leaps and bounds.

South Australia

Theo Doropoulos
As the only import in a South Australia squad that the new coach Darren Berry wanted to be based mostly on local talent, Doropoulos has been given a golden opportunity. During his four seasons with Western Australia, Doropoulos, a batting allrounder, was considered not to have made the most of his natural talents. He moved to Melbourne last season and won the Jack Ryder Medal as the best player in grade cricket, and will relish the chance to score runs on the friendly Adelaide Oval. At 26, he cannot afford to waste such a second chance.

Kane Richardson
It's a new era for South Australia's fast bowlers, with Shaun Tait now a Twenty20-only player and Ben Edmondson, Rob Cassell, Chris Duval and Tim Lang also gone from last year's contract list. Young fast men will be given plenty of chances and Richardson, 20, will be one of the first on the list. A right-armer who gets the ball to swing in, Richardson collected five wickets in his first-class debut towards the end of last summer and could challenge Peter George to be the Redbacks' main strike bowler this season.


James Faulkner runs up to bowl, Victoria v Tasmania, Ryobi Cup final, Melbourne, February 27, 2011
James Faulkner is fit to start the season after missing the Australia A series due to glandular fever © Getty Images

James Faulkner
A left-arm pace-bowling allrounder, Faulkner took giant strides last season and not only finished up fourth on the Sheffield Shield wicket tally with 36 at 17.72, he also won the Ricky Ponting Medal as Tasmania's best player for the season. Faulkner, 21, was picked for the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe but didn't travel due to glandular fever. He has recovered and was named in Tasmania's squads for the opening matches of this season and with John Hastings out for the summer, an ODI call-up is a possibility if he can extend his strong first-class form to the one-day arena.

Tom Triffitt
Tim Paine's broken finger means that Triffitt, 20, will be the starting wicketkeeper for Tasmania in the early matches this season. Described by the state captain George Bailey as "a natural gloveman", Triffitt was part of Australia's Under-19 World Cup-winning squad last year and made a vital 50 in the semi-final. His challenge this summer is to bring his batting skills to first-class cricket.


Jayde Herrick
A heavily-tattooed fast bowler who shaves his head before every match, Herrick was this time last year making a dollar by driving heavy machinery in a quarry. At 26, he now has a Victoria contract and has impressed the captain Cameron White with his work during the off-season, after making his state debut last summer. "It's his first pre-sason having full-time coaching and he's improved out of sight," White said this week. "He's set for a big season."

Glenn Maxwell
A powerful batsman who hovered on the fringes of Victoria's side for several seasons, Maxwell certainly grabbed his opportunity last summer. In his second first-class match, he scored 103 not out and 63, having earlier in the season blasted a 19-ball half-century - an Australian domestic record - in a one-day match against Tasmania. Also a useful offspinner, Maxwell, 22, has a chance to make himself a permanent member of Victoria's side in both formats this season.

Western Australia

Nathan Coulter-Nile
A tall fast bowler who picked up 21 Sheffield Shield wickets at 22.04 last summer after injuries affected the start of his season, Coulter-Nile is regarded by the Western Australia coach Mickey Arthur as "the one player in this group who will definitely go on and play higher". At 23, he has started to find his feet at interstate level and is expected to be a key man in the Warriors' attack this season.

Marcus Harris
Finding the right opening combination had been a problem for Western Australia over the past few seasons, so the Warriors were excited when Harris grabbed his chance last summer. In his third Sheffield Shield game, Harris became the youngest Australian to score a first-class 150, when he made 157 against Queensland at the WACA. That effort broke a 115-year-old record set by Clem Hill, and confirmed Harris, who is now 19, as an important part of Western Australia's future. A short left-hander, Harris will be aiming to forge a strong opening bond with Wes Robinson in the longer format.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by HatsforBats on (October 10, 2011, 22:34 GMT)

@ Hyclass: considering your knowledge about our domestic game I would for once just like to hear your opinion on a player, and not a review of his stats. Please understand this is not to disparage your opinion but rather a genuine interest. In my work my visual observations need to support the statistics, neither on their own is enough. Have you watched Warner play in the long format? I think his technique is textbook and believe he will improve when given more opportunity to play shield cricket as his recent results indicate. He was pidgeon-holed quite early and the competion for an opening slot in NSW is heavy. Do you think he deserves a chance?

Posted by Chop-Ups on (October 10, 2011, 22:02 GMT)

I'm a New south Welshman but even I get sick of seeing how any young fast bowler from our state automatically becomes a candidate for the Australian team after a few good performances. Hazelwood is totally unproven and coming back from a severe injury may not make it back with an injury like that , Starc has not shown himself on a consistent basis, Cummins is 18!! Should not even have a central contract yet. I think they are all 3 or 4 years away from being international bowlers.

Lets give some of the proven guys at state level a go even if it is short term like Swan and Magoffin a game, especially with a white ball where they swing it a mile. They might be old but it's for the now while the younger guys develope.

I expect to see big things this year from Lynn, Faulkner (carrying on from last year), Peter Forrest and Peter Neville

Posted by Mary_786 on (October 10, 2011, 15:03 GMT)

Khawaja to repeat his success and will be state player of the year again

Posted by   on (October 10, 2011, 13:50 GMT)

Pat Cummins is overrated personaly...... i would rather a lad like mitch marsh going through the ranks of australia.... and i luved it how they didnt put pats average up in this article :P

Posted by MinusZero on (October 10, 2011, 4:59 GMT)

I agree with s.sreekant. Butterworth had a great season last year. Surely he should be in the minds of selectors.

Posted by hyclass on (October 10, 2011, 4:39 GMT)

@Benjamin Yates...Warner has 406 1st class runs in Australia at 36.90.He averages below 29 in List A. If it wasnt for the 1 List A and 1 -1st class hundred in Zimbabwe, I doubt his name would be touted.The 152 doesnt appear on any of his stats simply because it isnt 1st class,ListA or 20/20 and is thus irrelevent. It certainly seems premature to promote players who dont have even 1 full Shield season by which to judge them.Warner hasnt been able to do that simply because he hasnt been good enough to get selected more often for NSW.The idea that he has been held back by them is completely refuted by his results. When did people become so panicked and convinced that youth is the panacea for all ills rather than performance? Argus lays the blame for Australias failings over the last 4 years at the feet of CA policies,adminstration,selection and coaching. Andrew McDonald of Victoria recently expressed a commonly held sentiment at 1st class level-that selection would return to merit basis.

Posted by landl47 on (October 10, 2011, 4:01 GMT)

It's great to see young talent coming through. This list is interesting for the number of young fast bowlers, although probably not many of them will be ready for the 2013 Ashes tour. Most of those named are still very much at the prospect stage, with only a handful of games and some youth cricket behind them. Hopefully at least a few will go on to become test players. The rather alarming thing, as popcorn says, is that there isn't a spinner on the list. Australia's domination in the 1990s/2000s was due in large part to Warne (and when he wasn't available, MacGill). With no top-class spinner Aus will struggle outside their own territory, especially on the subcontinent. Still, there's enough here to promise better things a few years in the future.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2011, 5:34 GMT)

I want to see Dave Warner in the Test team.

Posted by tdobbo on (October 8, 2011, 23:46 GMT)

It makes you wonder with all this young talent why they persist with Ponting, Hussey Hughes Haddin and Timid Mitch. Surely these guys can't be serious about turning up again in 2013 for the Ashes. England must be pleassed.

Posted by D-Train on (October 8, 2011, 8:17 GMT)

A few not mentioned - I'm looking forward to seeing how Chris Lynn goes. A young man who already has a fantastic record. I wouldn't mind seeing the forgotten man Josh Hazlewood. Hopefully he stays injury free and really comes on. Australian domestic cricket is definitely in a rebuilding stage. Many great servants of Australian international and domestic cricket have retired in the last 4 years and I really hope these guys can keep improving so we maintain the best domestic competition in the world.

Posted by s.sreekant on (October 8, 2011, 6:44 GMT)

butterworth is more than a youngster he has already proven his worth he should be in line next ahead of other young fellows i think alistar mcdermott and scott walter are also worth mentioning, scott walter bowls at a good pace and can also swing both ways and alistar is a nippy guy both these guys to be watched closely

Posted by   on (October 8, 2011, 5:15 GMT)

Best of Luck Aussies. They always had talent to dominate the world. I still feel AUS is the Best cricket nation on the planet.They need to manage resources. They wasted Shane watson 5 years ago, M.Hussey, Philip Jaques, Jason Kareja, Cameron White, Adam Dale, Stewart Clark, Clint Mckay and manyothers. They all have the flame to become superstars but not given chances at the right time.

Posted by RandyOZ on (October 8, 2011, 4:32 GMT)

Coulter Nile is an absolute gun and his stats show so. Am hoping the redbacks can do something other than 20-20 this season!

Posted by   on (October 8, 2011, 3:29 GMT)

He may not be as young as some listed, but why doesn't Tasmania's Luke Butterworth get a mention? Astounds me. 41 first-class matches with 2 tons at 28 and then with the ball, 129 wickets at 24.5 with medium pace. Better than a lot of the figures going around. Sure he is almost 28 but other late bloomers like Stu Clark and Ryan Harris have made it before. Give Luke a bowl, please!

Posted by Wozza-CY on (October 8, 2011, 2:14 GMT)

I for one am looking forward to this domestic season with these names just being some of the exciting talent around. Not saying we're heading for world domination, just enjoy seeing how the players react to what should be some real opportunities in the national teams. I'm looking forward to seeing how Butterworth & Faulkner go in their 2nd full season. Other guys like Warner, Finch & Ferguson who have been around for a while should make a serious push for national honours this year. Looking forward also to seeing how guys who finished last year well go this season. It should make for some pretty good cricket IMO.

Posted by maddinson on (October 8, 2011, 1:21 GMT)

Hazlewood is as good as Cummins, have watched him in U19 world cup played in NZ. He is exceptional talent unfortunately he was injured since august last year and but now fit for this season.

Posted by Meety on (October 8, 2011, 0:34 GMT)

@Brumby90 - oh no the sky is falling in! Last year was a summer (particularly on the East coast that saw more difficult pitches to bat on. So whilst runs weren't easy to come by (unless you are Nathan Hauritz with 2 tons), (or Cosgrove for that matter), plenty of bowlers took wickets at very good averages. This was a look at "...some of the young men..." playing this summer. This type of report is done yearly & for most countries. @KirtanJ - just nabbed 4 wickets last night (in a match where only 6 wickets fell). He must do something right! @Dashgar - Hazlewood is a big talent, but IMO, he has to put in a big year just to get back to where he was 2 yrs ago! He would be playing 2nd XI if NSW named a full strength squad. == == == For mine, (youthwise), the bolter in the pack is Richardson. Saw him bowl & I think he is better than Cummins. As for batsmen, Beaton of WA, just ahead of Burns, but I reckon NSWs Armstrong will make an impact too.

Posted by popcorn on (October 8, 2011, 0:21 GMT)

Patrick Cummins was the star bowler for NSW against RCB in yesterday's T20. He's got a future - Troy Cooley and Craig McDermott should work closely with him.

Posted by   on (October 8, 2011, 0:08 GMT)

Players to watch this season: David Warner, Chris Lynn, pat cummins, nic maddinson, steve o'keefe, nathan lyon, glenn maxwell, coulter nile, matt wade, marc fact watch every player because u never know who will throw a rabbit in the hat for aussie selection

Posted by   on (October 8, 2011, 0:08 GMT)

Players to watch this season: David Warner, Chris Lynn, pat cummins, nic maddinson, steve o'keefe, nathan lyon, glenn maxwell, coulter nile, matt wade, marc fact watch every player because u never know who will throw a rabbit in the hat for aussie selection

Posted by Dashgar on (October 7, 2011, 23:48 GMT)

I'm looking forward to seeing these guys play again and working out what speeds some of the guys like Coulter-Nile, Pattinson, Herrick and Richardson bowl. Cummins' speed is constantly quoted because all his performances worth noting were in the Big Bash where they have speed guns. Coulter-Nile did all his best work in the Sheffield Shield where they don't have speed guns, yet he is considered a seriously quick bowler as well. Cummins isn't the only RF bowler coming through the ranks.

Posted by bumsonseats on (October 7, 2011, 18:10 GMT)

anyone who can bowl at 90 mph at 18 should be ever overlooked. or bother that he cannot do this or that with the bowl. just bowl as fast as you can.pace beats everything. dpk

Posted by Mary_786 on (October 7, 2011, 16:29 GMT)

Khawaja, Finch and Maddinson to dominate this year

Posted by s.sreekant on (October 7, 2011, 15:01 GMT)

faulkner should be in line ahead of cummins,hazlewood,starc he has impressed as an all rounder

Posted by Ben1989 on (October 7, 2011, 13:27 GMT)

Lol@Brumby, thread bare with talent, all of these players are good enough to play internationally with a bit more experience, Having teenagers as the next best thing is good as they have a lot more time to develop, as a few say below, this isnt even the complete list, there's a hell of a lot more...

Posted by Dashgar on (October 7, 2011, 13:08 GMT)

A lot of people waiting patiently for Josh Hazelwood to perform. Strange that a guy who's never taken more than 3 wickets in an innings in any format gets such a reputation. I guess it takes a real star to play in the NSW second XI which is where he'll be for most of the season I'm assuming.

Posted by KirtanJ on (October 7, 2011, 12:14 GMT)

Is it just me or does Patrick Cummins seem completely overrated. Sure he has pace, but is he consistently able to swing the ball or nip it off the seam. Personally, i don't see him lasting but let's hope I'm wrong for Australia's sake.

Posted by Brumby90 on (October 7, 2011, 10:46 GMT)

The above names show just why Aussie cricket is thread bare with talent. No one is consistently making runs or taking wckets that we are now desperate and are looking for teenagers as the big thing.

Posted by maddinson on (October 7, 2011, 10:07 GMT)

Alex Keath, Callum Ferguson, Josh Hazlewood and Luke Butterworth also few among the watch outs.

Posted by popcorn on (October 7, 2011, 9:02 GMT)

Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood,James Pattinson and Patrick Cummins are the next cabs off the rank in the fast bowling catgory. Mathew Wade in the wicket-keeper category. Alarmingly, NOT a SINGLE SPINNER to watch.

Posted by   on (October 7, 2011, 8:52 GMT)

the future aussie prospects... sounds positive for the aussies

Posted by AidanFX on (October 7, 2011, 8:51 GMT)

Nathan Coulter-Nile is one guy who is real contention for selection at the higher level.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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