As Ashton Turner clutched his shoulder after diving in the field in the 2017 JLT Cup final, he could have been forgiven for feeling deflated.

It was the third time in his short career that an injury to his shoulder had required surgery, and eight months on from an international call-up as an offspin-bowling allrounder, he found himself unable to bowl or throw for the rest of the season.

In fact, it turned out to be "a blessing in disguise", Turner told the Cricket Mentoring podcast last year. After the injury, he had not expected to play again that season, but with only one skill to focus on, he worked sufficiently hard at his batting that he was picked despite his ailments.

Afforded an opportunity in the Perth Scorchers middle order, Turner made the finishing role his own. This season, he has quickly become the team's most important player, as well as their stand-in captain.

The scale of Turner's rise as a T20 batsman is remarkable. In Perth's victorious 2016-17 campaign, he played every game but faced just 84 balls and bowled the same number across their ten matches. He was the luxury option in a side with five frontline bowlers and a solid top order, a bits-and-pieces all-rounder in a team of specialists.

Now, Turner might be the best finisher in Australian cricket. Across the last two tournaments, nobody in the Big Bash has scored more runs in overs 15-20 than his 257, nor at a quicker strike-rate in that period than his 194.69. His Smart Strike Rate - ESPNcricinfo's metric which contextualises innings based on game situation and scoring patterns - in the death overs is a mind-boggling 268.75.

And Turner is no mindless hitter, but a chasing mastermind. The Scorchers - like the majority of T20 teams worldwide - favour batting second, and did so in 10 of their 11 games last season. That is no wonder, with a man in their middle order who has averaged 48.80 in a game's second innings over the last two years, striking at a shade over 150.

This season, he has tended to come in either straight after the Powerplay has finished, or halfway through an innings, often with a rebuilding job on his hands.

A lone hand of 60 not out off 36 balls against Sydney Thunder was almost enough to drag them to an unlikely win, while a 22-ball 43 not out against Melbourne Stars at the MCG and a sublime 60 off 30 balls against Sydney Sixers led the Scorchers to their last two victories. It is no exaggeration to suggest that without his runs, the Scorchers would be out of the qualification picture completely.

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When list managers and scouts look for untapped talent in T20 leagues, they care little for raw data about strike-rates and averages. Instead, they use metrics like activity rate - the percentage of balls a player scores off - and balls per boundary to spot diamonds in the rough.

Lots of players rank highly in one category or the other, but Turner is unusual in that he is among the best in both. Part of that is down to his impressive running between the wickets, a skill that Justin Langer highlighted recently when he brought him into the ODI squad as cover for Mitchell Marsh. The rest comes from his clear, simple gameplan of looking to score a boundary off balls in his strong zones - he is imperious hitting straight down the ground - and ones and twos off the rest.

That combination is what led Jarrod Kimber to mention him in dispatches alongside AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell on this site last year and what highlighted him to Rajasthan Royals' management when they recruited him for IPL 2019.

Perhaps it is no surprise that Rajasthan were the side to sign him given their reputation for 'Moneyballing', which dates back to the first edition of the tournament. Their management consider themselves lucky the auction was held when it was, as they think his Big Bash success would have pushed his price far beyond the 50 lakh (98,000 AUS) they paid.

That said, we should be wary of predicting an instant IPL superstar. Joe Harris of White Ball Analytics notes that Turner's balls-per-dismissal against legspin and offspin are 20 and 23 respectively. While not low enough to send alarm bells ringing, those numbers might be a worry given the relative quality of spinner in the Big Bash and the IPL. Remember, Rajasthan also plumped for a Big Bash star in the form of D'Arcy Short last year, and while Short's dismissal rates against slow bowlers were slightly better than Turner's at the time of the auction, he struggled throughout the tournament against high-quality spin.

It is understandable, then, that the Royals plan to fly Turner out to India as early as possible to give them time to work with him on that facet of his game. With Australia's white-ball squads touring in February and March, he may yet be in the country even earlier. Langer is known to be a fan of him after years of working together in domestic cricket, and Turner remains an outside bet for the World Cup in England.

For now, though, it seems that 20-over cricket is the format in which Turner is most likely to make the step up to international cricket. International selection in T20 is a notoriously difficult beast. Franchises tend to shunt their best players up the order to ensure they face as many balls as possible, and the result is that international sides are left with teams filled with batsmen who open at domestic level. Take Australia's 2016 World T20 side, which saw two of the world's best openers statistically in Maxwell and Shane Watson bat at five and six, or England's most recent T20I team, in which all but one (Eoin Morgan) of the top seven are regular openers for their county.

That means that the specialist middle-order batsman can be a sought-after commodity in international T20. Of course, ODI cricket takes centre stage this year, but with the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia on the horizon, Turner should get the chance to showcase his talent.

For some time now Australia have been crying out for a death-overs specialist in the Michael Hussey mould, a man who ends run chases unbeaten and bats around their powerful top order.

In Ashton Turner, they might have found just that.