14/04/2024
Xavier Bartlett. Picture: Cricket Australia

Xavier Bartlett. Picture: Cricket Australia

After making his international debut for Australia in the recent ODI and T20 series against the West Indies, Queenslander Xavier Bartlett has been earmarked as a potential long-term player for Australia.

The 25-year-old has enjoyed a seamless transition into Australian colours, having a significant impact in his first three games at international level. After making his debut to kick off the ODI series against the West Indies at the MCG, Bartlett had an immediately imposed himself on the contest.

With just his third delivery, Bartlett bowled opener Justin Greaves with a perfect outswinger that hit the top of off-stump, and that was only just the beginning. He went onto take home ‘Man of the Match’ honours in the game after taking 4/17 off nine overs.

He followed it up 4/21 to be named best on ground for the second time in as many matches, as well as claiming the ‘Player of the Series’.

On the back of those strong performances, he was added to the T20I squad for Australia’s final match of the series in Perth where he also took 2/37 off his four overs.

His current ODI statistics are staggering, he’s taken eight wickets for a combined total of 38 runs at an average of just 4.75.

Speaking after his ODI debut, Bartlett struggled to comprehend what he had achieved in the first outing for his country.

“It almost feels like it’s not real, to contribute to a good team win’s everything you want to dream of in your debut so to do that tonight’s really pleasing,” he said.

“It definitely eased the nerves to get that first wicket out of the way and to get it with a decent ball’s always nice, lucky it hit he stumps.”

His impressive recent form has seen him considered by many as a player of the future for Australia’s test side, amongst other forms of the game. His ability to swing the ball in the air and move it off the seam as well as his accuracy, makes him a very dangerous prospect for opposition batsman across the world.

Australian superstar Steve Smith heaped the praise on the young quick, reflecting on the first time he came across the big Queenslander.

“I remember facing him probably five or six years ago in the Gabba nets before a Test match. I thought ‘jeez, this guy presents a beautiful seam’, which you don’t often see,” Smith said.

“I just remembered that, and then seeing him come out in this series and bowl the way he did was outstanding. He presented that seam I spoke about, swung it and got the rewards.

“It looks like he’s got a bright future.”

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Former Australian great Mark Waugh echoed Smith’s comments, believing that Bartlett provides a point of difference to some other bowlers around the world.

“You don’t see many genuine swing bowlers in world cricket these days. They are few and far between, good quality swing bowlers,” he said.

With the mainstay Aussie pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazlewood, it appears unlikely Bartlett will get a look in at test level at least in the short term. However, at just 25 years of age he has time on his side and looks like a dangerous proposition on pitches conducive to swing and seam like in England and South Africa.

With his height and ability to hit the right areas, Australian conditions would also appear to suit his style well, as it has done for the more established Australian bowlers over the course of their careers.

The Queenslander is still relatively inexperienced at first class level, having only played 18 matches. While his sample size isn’t big, with 62 wickets to his name at a touch over 26, the exciting talent has plenty to work with.

By the time the next Ashes series in England comes around, the fast-bowling cartel of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc will be 34, 37 and 38 years of age respectively, closing in on the end of their illustrious careers. Bartlett will be only 29, and at the peak of his powers.

Although there are many Test series before that away Ashes fixture, if his good form continues, Bartlett looms as a strong candidate for Australia across all forms of the games inside the new two or three years.

Depending on injuries and form of the players ahead of him in that time, he made even be called upon to pull on the coveted Baggy green much sooner than that.

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