New Zealand conditions will suit my bowling - Sayers
Australia's selectors have made no secret of their desire to pick fast bowlers for the national team. Fast, not medium-fast. That is one of the reasons Jackson Bird's Test career stalled after three appearances, despite the fact that he was Man of the Match in one of those. It is also one of the factors that has gone against Chadd Sayers in his bid for national selection. Until now.
Sayers is a classic swing bowler whose weapons are all based on moving the ball sideways, not on how quickly it reaches the batsman. His style has been good enough to bring him 145 first-class wickets at 24.82, but at the age of 28, it was starting to look like he would never get a chance at the higher level. But Sayers and Bird are both in Australia's Test squad for the tour of New Zealand.
It is all about the conditions, the selectors argue. In New Zealand speed is less important than movement. There is no point being fast if you're doing nothing with the ball, and serving up half-volleys at 150kph does not help the team. Whether either Sayers or Bird get the chance to wear the baggy green on the two-Test tour remains to be seen, but they are encouraged by their selections.
"I'm never going to bowl 140, so if that was their criteria, I wasn't going to fit that," Sayers told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday. "But they've picked for conditions, with Jackson Bird getting picked as well, same sort of bowler as me. They've picked for the New Zealand conditions ... I think a good ball to any batsman is a good ball.
"I watched the last series [of Tests in New Zealand] on TV and it looked like it swung around and nipped around a bit, which will suit my bowling for sure."
The selectors were forced to look beyond the usual suspects due to injuries - Mitchell Starc is recovering from ankle surgery, Pat Cummins has yet another stress fracture of the back, and Nathan Coulter-Nile - a previous Test squad member though yet to win a baggy green - has a shoulder problem. Sayers knows about unfortunate injury timing, having been unavailable for consideration for the 2015 Ashes due to an ankle injury.
"All the hard work in the gym … has paid off in the pre-season," Sayers said. "To come back from that was one big step and then to perform in the four Shield games I've played this year was another big step. Really excited and can't wait to get over there."
This summer Sayers has collected 16 Sheffield Shield wickets at 25.81, still a solid tally at the halfway point of the season, though down on his remarkable 2012-13, a season in which he topped the Shield wicket list with 48 at 18.52. Another strong season followed in 2013-14, when he picked up 36 wickets and was South Australia's leading pace bowler.
"When you're in form and don't get picked, then you think maybe the time has passed," Sayers said. "But obviously if you keep taking wickets and knocking the door down then a chance could come eventually - and luckily enough for me it has come."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale