Gloucestershire v Australia A, Bristol, 1st day June 21, 2013

Maddinson's rapid ton shows potential and pitfalls

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Gloucestershire 104 for 5 (Sayers 3-24) trail Australia A 331 for 4 dec (Maddinson 181, Hughes 47) by 227 runs
Scorecard

Boom. A lofted straight drive clatters into the construction site at the Ashley Down Road End of the County Ground in Bristol. Whoosh. An attempt to repeat the shot next ball draws a wild swing and a near outside edge. It is 45 minutes before lunch on day one of a first-class match. This, more or less, is the existence of Nic Maddinson, arguably the most conspicuously talented of Australia's young batsmen in England in 2013.

On a day when Australia A clambered all over Gloucestershire, Maddinson's ball-striking - and occasional ball-missing - left the most lasting impression. In a little more than three hours he crashed 181 from 143 balls, and spent just 34 balls hurtling from three figures to his final tally. Unbridled flair taking hold of modest bowling on an unexpectedly sunny Friday made for pleasant, light-hearted viewing: the Ashes are not at stake here for the tourists, nor any Division Two points at risk for the hosts.

Less jaunty was Gloucestershire's batting in response to Australia A's 331 for 4. Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris are working back into fitness and form while Chadd Sayers has only one full first-class season behind him, but all were made to look piercing as the shadows lengthened. Sayers could count the wicket of his South Australian team-mate Michael Klinger among three victims, while Ashton Agar also nipped out the wicket of Dan Christian. Gloucestershire's two Australians could manage only 14 runs between them.

Earlier it had been possible simply to sit back and enjoy Maddinson's spectacle, studded with 22 boundaries and a blink-inducing nine sixes. Yet amid the flurry of runs, Maddinson showed why he has some way to go before maturing as a batsman, and why at 21 he is still deciding what sort of player he will become: a Twenty20 blaster or a more rounded Test match contender.

Regular visitors to Nevil Road could be forgiven for wondering aloud why a batsman so obviously gifted as Maddinson was not in the Ashes squad proper. Their answer can be provided by a record that shows that days like these do not come as the result of an easily repeatable approach to batting.

The best Maddinson can offer is unforgettable, as a wonderfully free swing of the bat can send perfectly presentable deliveries soaring into the stand at square leg or bouncing percussively off the top of Gloucestershire's new pavilion under construction. But he remains an unfinished article, vulnerable early on when the ball is new and the bowlers fresh, and prone to frequent lapses of concentration thereafter. In the early overs Maddinson struggled by comparison with the more obdurate Jordan Silk, beaten often outside off stump even if he was not aiming an almighty heave towards the cover fence.

Later, well after a more experienced player would have settled in, Maddinson showed a tendency for the over eager, often following a pristinely struck boundary with a six, and then a swing-and-miss. In this he recalled nothing so much as the former Australia coach Bob Simpson's line that Ian Healy "bats faster and faster until he gets out". At one point Maddinson offered a vertical bat in some kind of outlandish ramp shot attempt that fell just out of reach of the field. Somewhat fittingly he was to be dismissed the ball after clouting his biggest six of all, skying Benny Howell to mid-off.

Maddinson was certainly playing a game not familiar to his batting partners, two of whom have greater challenges ahead. After Silk offered no shot to be bowled by Gloucestershire's Twenty20 signing Christian, Phillip Hughes strode out at No. 3. A few balls after his arrival Hughes faced up to Liam Norwell, who shares some quirks of a bowling action, if not a common level of skill or pace, with Andrew Flintoff. The Gloucestershire captain Klinger posting a leg slip. This show of 2009 Ashes nostalgia did not overtly perturb Hughes, and his dismissal cutting at Howell was a surprise.

Usman Khawaja followed Hughes to the middle, and set about batting in an unhurried manner that did not suggest too much anxiety about not having topped 51 on tour so far and therefore not really enhancing his claims to an Ashes batting spot. He was comfortable without dominating, composed without looking commanding. Perhaps bigger runs will come in the tour matches against Somerset and Worcestershire, but it was difficult to imagine Khawaja being entirely thrilled when the captain Steve Smith - leading in place of a resting Brad Haddin - declared at tea.

Smith's decision granted his bowlers the chance of an afternoon run, and the pacemen were to find enough movement in the air and off the pitch to be dangerous. Sayers showed his command of line when Chris Dent shouldered arms and was bowled, and Harris coaxed a feather-edge from Dan Housego after he was swung around to the pavilion end in place of Bird, who was tidy in his opening spell.

Sayers would go on to have Klinger taken at mid-on, and Gareth Roderick losing his off stump. Like Maddinson he is not in direct Ashes contention, but may be attracting the interest of several Championship sides with his consistency and knack for wickets. The left-arm spinner Agar had Christian snaffled at short midwicket and Fawad Ahmed, now eligible for his passport thanks to the passing of new legislation back in Australia, twirled through two overs before the close.

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

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  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on June 22, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    I'm sure the selection for these games was preordained with Siddle and Pattinson playing the first two with Harris & Bird (both of whom have had injuries) held back for this one. Despite the pitches Ahmed and Agar have both played the last two also. Basically unbalanced teams to give players playing time and make a Ahmed/Agar decision for the last spot before the Australia (rather than Aust A) portion of the long form cricket starts. If we can have a convincing innings from Khawaja and Hughes and a good second innings bowling performance from Harris, Bird & the spinners this A team run of 3 games will have been a good lead up to the 2 full team warm up games. Australia may well lose the Ashes but in terms of preparation opportunities over 5 warm up games they have given themselves their best possible chance.

  • dummy4fb on June 22, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    3 things...I hope Pattinson is ok. I may just be paranoid however he had a poor match against Ireland and is sitting out of this match so I hope he is injury free. I am dissapointed both by Smith's score and his declaration. Could be seen as selfish in denying Khawaja and Wade a chance to press their claims for a spot when he (smith) has been touted by the selectors as a potential inclusion. Chadd Sayers should be included in our squad as of now; his form is cherry ripe and the rest of the bowlers are injury prone enough to warrant it. I can almost guaruntee that he will need to be called up before the 5 test series is through as the next best outside of the squad (by the nsp reckoning) because of probable injuries to Harris or Pattinson or poor form by mitchell Starc. What we would all give to be on the NSP. Khawaja's form is crucial to Australia's chances and should bat up the order in the 2nd innings to get a shot at a long innings! Hang on a sec...that maybe 4 things!

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on June 22, 2013, 8:25 GMT

    Maddinson obviously has talent but he needs guidance and role models as to what it takes to become a Test batsman. There will come a time soon when the selectors will have to take a punt on players they think have the technique to succeed in that form ..... Silk? maybe Maddinson? Burns? Doolan?. Not close enough to Shield cricket to know of others. I just think patience with players with thrashing techniques like Hughes and Warner will run out soon. The Aust revival in 1989 started by having faith in players like Taylor, Marsh, Boon, Jones , S Waugh many of whom took time to develop. I'm hoping Australia A can bat again today and give Khawaja , Wade etc the chance of playing a long innings. Another run out for Bird & Harris and an extended bowl for Ahmed and Agar and it will have been a productive 3 days.

  • dummy4fb on June 22, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    @Matt Gibb, it worked out okay for Michael Slater and Michel Clarke, not every young player struggles, gets dropped and comes back later. Worked pretty well with Hughes too for a little while. Working okay for Joe Root right now too. Having said that i'm not sure i'd be picking the guy yet either, having not seen him play for over 12 months its impossible to judge.

    @Dashgar, agree and even more importantly he is starting to hit big centuries, three for the year to date, that is 3 more than Ed Cowan, for example. Centuries win matches, not ground out 40's. And as Chappelli always says, its not 'how', its 'how many'! I think i'd at least be adding him to the main squad right now, particularly with Clarke and Warner out of action.

  • bobagorof on June 22, 2013, 7:08 GMT

    I seem to remember posting similar concerns (though not with as in-depth an analysis) a few days ago after Maddinson scored his hundred against Ireland. There's no doubt he can hit the ball, but until he shows the ability to be patient and grind out an innings when things aren't going his way I'd keep him away from the International scene. He's a very talented young guy and Australia will look to him to be a central piece in their batting lineup in years to come. Really hope his development continues.

  • Mitty2 on June 22, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    The fact of the matter is is there isn't a "bare cupboard" in the batting stocks - especially in the young batsman - as many postulate. It's just that those batsmen in the test team have all collectively been poor and some arent even in the best batsmen in australia (watson, warnee, cowan). Joe burns, Jordan silk, usman khawaja, Steve smith and to a lesser extent Alex doolan will all be in the test team in three-four years and all have good FC records in a shield system with very good quicks and assisting tracks.

    Two 100's in a row by maddison has shown his undoubted talent (and good on inverarity -suprisingly - for selecting him), but has also highlighted another underlying problem that brettig points out. In his other ton, I read that he had a huge discrepancy between his low scores and his high scores, surely something that he will get rid of over time. Please don't select him early though.

    Very stupid declaration as mentioned. Hope bird can prove why he's our best seamer tomorrow

  • sifter132 on June 22, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    Can't believe they specifically drafted in Wade to this side to find form and declared when he was on 3*! And hear, hear on the general vibe in the article about Maddinson. Trouble is, he's hardly got great role models in guys like Warner and Hughes. Those guys have found their spots based on very free flowing, often reckless batting, all in the name of 'talent'. None of them would fancy a 150+ ball innings where they haven't reached a century yet. It seems to be the reason Ed Cowan has been such an important balance, someone who's happy to leave the ball. Yet even Ed has felt pressure to score quickly in this Aussie team, and I think that aggressive approach is admirable, but stupid

  • Beertjie on June 22, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    My thought exactly @ToneMalone on (June 22, 2013, 3:19 GMT). I hope he sees the bigger picture assuming he doesn't enforce the follow on!

  • dummy4fb on June 22, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    maddinson reminds me a lot of hayden...may not be as big as him but can hit the ball freely...that is wht is required....and young silk is a name for the future...certainly maddinson and silk have got more tick mark in my boxes than warner or hughes.....

  • dummy4fb on June 22, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    He has struggled in australia the last season or 2, to see him play his natural game for australia A in England conditions is really fantastic to see, I dont think he needs to put away the big shots, its part of his game and it works for him

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