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Nathan Ellis' yorkers and slower balls backed to make impression at IPL

It has been a rapid rise for the Tasmania and Hobart Hurricanes quick with his BBL coach seeing more to come

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Nathan Ellis picked up a hat-trick on his international debut, Bangladesh vs Australia, 3rd T20I, Dhaka, August 6, 2021

Nathan Ellis picked up a hat-trick on his international debut  •  AFP/Getty Images

Two years ago, Nathan Ellis was sitting in Adam Griffith's office at Bellerive Oval in Hobart pondering whether his professional cricketing dreams might be over.
Two years later, he might get his chance to make an IPL debut in the coming weeks with Punjab Kings just a month after taking a hat-trick on his international debut for Australia.
Griffith, who is working as an assistant coach for Royal Challengers Bangalore, vividly remembers the conversation with Ellis as Tasmania and Hobart Hurricanes head coach. There were no promises given, just an opportunity to train with Tasmania. That conversation has lead Ellis from club cricket to the world's premier T20 tournament in just 24 months.
"I'm just really happy for Nathan. He works as hard as anyone," Griffith told ESPNcricinfo. "If he gets an opportunity, I think he can do a great job over here [in the UAE]. They are different conditions, and they change through the tournament as well because there's going to be a lot of cricket played on those wickets in the IPL and then into the World Cup.
"So what that will bring into play is the other parts of his game, his slower balls, his change-ups, his cutters. But ultimately a good yorker is a good yorker. And him being the height he is, he can actually get under a batter's swing a little bit better. His margin for error is fractionally more than what a tall guy is. His game will suit the conditions really well."
Ellis has got his chance with Kings as a replacement player for fellow Australia, Tasmania, and Hurricanes quick Riley Meredith who has opted out of the second half of the IPL as he works his way back from a side strain he picked up on the recent tour of the Caribbean. Jhye Richardson also won't be returning for the Kings, remaining home to play domestic cricket with Western Australia.
Ellis is not a like-for-like replacement for either man. He has carved a niche in Australian domestic cricket as a death overs specialist. Partly, Griffith explains, due to his hunger to bowl the tough overs.
"He wants them," Griffith said. "And that's half the battle. If you want to be a good death bowler you've got to want to bowl at the death. He wants that ball in his hands. He wants to help the team win the game. It's not about him. It's not about him showing how good he is. He wants to do a job for the 10 other blokes who are out there and again that's a great attribute to have.
"When he tries to bowl a yorker, he'll get hit but he knows that he's got the ability to come back next ball and run in and execute that yorker. He doesn't run away. He's not scared. He backs himself in at all times. And that's one of the keys to his success, that he keeps backing himself."
Griffith also believes his variations will be useful in the UAE, particularly his back-of-the-hand slower ball that he has developed over the last couple of years.
"He's got that ability with his shoulder, to be able to flick that hand right around," he said. "Not all bowlers can do that. He's got that flexibility to be able to do that so that's a big part of his slower ball. The seam still comes out straight. He just keeps working on it. He runs in at a million miles an hour and that doesn't change which is a big part of it as well. He doesn't slow his action down to bowl it. If anything he actually puts more energy and effort in. But again, he misses one, that's okay, he'll move onto the next one and run in and bowl it. And you've got to have that mindset to be able to do that at the top level."
Ellis doesn't have the express pace of Meredith or even Richardson, who is a similar height. But Griffith believes the 26-year-old has more pace in him as he continues to get stronger. He was particularly impressed with what he saw from Ellis at Tasmania's pre-season training a fortnight ago when he had just come out of 14-day hotel quarantine, where the Australia players were only allowed out of their rooms to train for two hours in the final seven days of the two-week stint.
"He actually looked like he was bowling a little bit faster," Griffith said. "It's an energy and effort thing with him, but he's got a great release. He can get 140kph. I think he's got 145 in him at times to go along with all the skills he's got. It's a pretty good package."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo