Maddinson hundred gets NSW home
New South Wales 2 for 193 (Maddinson 118*) beat Tasmania 217 (Michael 54, Faulkner 51, Starc 5-39) by eight wickets (D/L method)
Ask the prodigiously talented Nic Maddinson why he seems finally to have got his head around the concept of batting and the answer is to the point. "Making the same mistake for five years, you get a bit sick of it after a while."
Players, coaches and selectors have been waiting about that long to see the 23-year-old Maddinson mature into the sort of batsman who can play Test cricket for Australia. Early in the new season it appears he has finally made the step up from power hitter and cameo specialist to batsman capable of playing the long innings.
Maddinson's second century of the competition helped New South Wales to a fourth consecutive victory - this time against Tasmania - and was notable for its combination of deft placement and sound defence in addition to his penchant for shots of the aggressive and outrageous varieties.
It was well-timed too for the fact that the national selectors Rod Marsh, Trevor Hohns and Darren Lehmann were all present at Hurstville the day before a Test team camp to be held at the ground. Maddinson is not a part of the 19-man training squad but his ability is well known to selectors, who would love to pick him in the not-too-distant future. In doing so he may be about the mirror the graduation of Steven Smith from flashy youngster to world-class performer.
"It's just that hunger for runs," Maddinson said. "Looking at a guy like Steve Smith who when he gets a hundred keeps going, and when you're in form you've got to make the most of it, so that's what my mindset is going forward. I'm not looking for the boundary ball quite as much, happier to get down the other end and just chill out for a little while and soak up some balls in the game.
"It's a mindset thing, there are times when I've hit the ball as well as now but I haven't applied myself as much. Just watching the way [Smith] approaches his game and has built an innings, that's where I've learned off him and chatting to him. We've known each other for a long time and he knows my game pretty well.
"Playing Test cricket's my No. 1 goal. Hopefully I can keep developing. It is just a couple of matches - it's about putting those scores together for years on end. You've got to score hundreds, score a lot of them and make them big ones when you do."
Maddinson appears also to have been helped so far by having the experienced and equable Ed Cowan batting at the other end after moving from Tasmania back to his Sydney birthplace. Cowan has also enjoyed a productive tournament, and the pair added 117 largely untroubled runs before Xavier Doherty found some loop and spin to deceive the older batsman as he came down the pitch and was bowled between bat and pad.
"I love batting with Ed," Maddinson said. "We've been going to the games together, we live pretty close, so been spending a bit of time together which is good. And I really like the partnership we've formed, we complement each other pretty well, and he's got a very level head, so it's good for me batting with him."
Ironically in the circumstances, Maddinson's inspiration was unable to hang around. The ball after Cowan's dismissal, Smith also sauntered out of his crease, but was confounded by Doherty's turn and comfortably stumped by Tim Paine as an audible "oooh" echoed around the ground. Smith will be looking forward to a couple of days facing the red ball in training against Australia's Test squad as he keeps half an eye on next month's home series against New Zealand.
Shane Watson averted the hat-trick and was still there at the end, as Maddinson brought things to a rapid conclusion with a quintet of sixes around a pair of sub-tropical showers that made marginal reductions to the target.
The Tigers had hoped to set something more substantial, but their hopes of doing so were blown conclusively away by Mitchell Starc, who performed his now trademark demolition of the opposition tail. Starc claimed Tasmania's last four wickets for six runs in two overs, ending their innings after 46.3 overs. In limited overs cricket at least, Starc appears to be without peer as the game's most destructive bowler, and seemingly a cut above domestic duty.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig