Melbourne Stars fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile was expecting to get released from his IPL franchise Mumbai Indians but the news could not have come at a worse moment.
Coulter-Nile, 33, was on his return to the BBL on Thursday night after missing the last three weeks with a calf injury. He took 3 for 12 from his first 15 balls to put the Stars in a commanding position with the Renegades needing 62 to win from 27 balls.
But he gave up three sixes and two fours in his last eight balls of the game, including 19 runs from the 19th over the match, as the Renegades won with two balls to spare.
Adding salt to the wound, Coulter-Nile found out he had been released from the IPL champions the moment he turned his phone on.
"Yep, that was good," Coulter-Nile said. "Just got smacked in the 19th [over], get off the field and get told I'm being flicked, get the email."
Despite the timing, he was not surprised even after he had played in Mumbai's title, taking 2 for 29 in the IPL final win over Delhi Capitals including the wickets of Rishabh Pant and Axar Patel.
"I was expecting that was going to happen," Coulter-Nile said. "They paid overs for me so I thought that was going to happen. Hopefully, I can get picked up again this year. I've got nothing else on so hopefully I can get to the IPL."
Coulter-Nile was bought by Mumbai for AUD$1.63 million (8 crore) at the last IPL auction but was released after one season. He was one of nine Australians who were released by their IPL franchises, including international stars Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, and Aaron Finch.
Coulter-Nile was also pragmatic about his prospects of returning to Australia's limited-overs sides. He last played a T20I on Australia's triumphant tour of India in 2019 and played five matches in the World Cup before missing out on selection at the business end of the tournament.
He has bowled well in the four matches he's played in the BBL, either side of his calf injury, claiming nine wickets at an economy rate of 6.36 and a strike-rate of 9.20.
But even with Australia's selectors likely to need up to 36 players to go on two different tours at the same time in February, Coulter-Nile does not believe he will be called upon for Australia's five-match T20I tour of the New Zealand that follows the BBL.
"I've not even thought about," Coulter-Nile said. "I don't think I'm in the mix at all. It's just reading between the lines I think. I haven't played for Australia in two years or something. So, I think I can just work it out myself."
Coulter-Nile is fully invested in trying to win the Stars an elusive BBL title after joining the club last year on a four-year deal.
He blamed his performance on Wednesday night on some rust but was confident he could bounce back against Perth Scorchers on Saturday.
"The first 18 balls were good," he said. "My plan B, which were yorkers and fuller slower balls just weren't coming out. I haven't played that much in a few weeks which is what I'll put it down to, but I'll move on. I've played enough cricket to hopefully come back on Saturday and bowl well."
The Stars let an opportunity slip against the Renegades to all-but sew up a finals spot. They now face the Scorchers and the ladder-leading Sydney Sixers in their last two games.
"Obviously that one hurts because that really could have put us in the mix for finals and now we've got to play the best two teams and win and hopefully that will put us in a good position," Coulter-Nile said.
"You'd rather be in a position where we're flying on top of the ladder like the Sixers are but I guess if we do win these two games and get in the finals we'll obviously gain some momentum, the boys will be playing some good cricket and we'll have probably beaten the teams that we're going to play in the finals."
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne