Even as Australia’s top quicks are either nursing injuries or limbering back to recovery, Jason Behrendorff has reaped the rewards of staying fit. With James Pattinson becoming the latest high-profile casualty, three of Australia’s A-list pace quartet – Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood being the other two – have been rendered out of action.
Behrendorff, meanwhile, has earned a call-up to Australia’s T20I squad, and is in line to make his international debut against India. At 27, it isn’t as if he is a stranger to injuries himself. The left-arm seamer has been dogged by back and leg injuries in the recent past, with a stress fracture in his left leg ruling him out of the 2016-17 Big Bash League. Behrendorff, though, made a rousing comeback to first-class cricket by picking up 23 wickets in three games for Western Australia, including a 14-wicket haul against Victoria. With an impressive record across formats, including 53 T20 wickets from 38 matches, Behrendorff, selector Mark Waugh reckoned, “deserves his chance at this level.”
Considering the number and frequency of injuries, there is speculation over Behrendorff being a potential dark horse for the Ashes. But, given his struggles with injuries and a background in sports science, Behrendorff is well aware of the fickle nature of injuries and doesn’t want to look beyond the T20I series.
“I’m 100 percent focused on these games here and making my debut,” Behrendorff said. “It’s something I’ve worked so hard for so hopefully I’ll be able to play at least one of these three matches over the next week or so.
“I am feeling really good at the moment. I’ve had an uninterrupted pre-season for a change which is the first time in a long time. I feel like my seasons have always started quite slow; so it’s something different this year, which is great. I feel my preparation has been great so far coming in from playing some pre-season games to playing in the JLT Cup back home. I played a couple of games there as well, so that’s been really positive. It showed last year when I had my build-up coming back from my leg injury, I was able to have a lot of match practice beforehand so I felt ready to go when I came back.”
While Behrendorff admitted his experience in four-day cricket has made him a more confident bowler in the longer format, he recognised the need to be tactically smart in Indian conditions. “[It is] something we have spoken a little bit about,” he said. “The wickets over here are generally a lot different to the ones we play on back home. Change-ups… but the main thing is execution as well. Having your field set and bowling the right ball at the right time, that’s going to be huge.
“Most of my cricket has been in four-day cricket so it’s something I’ve worked really hard at and I’m feeling more confident with how I’m going about it. It’s a format I really enjoy and I’m looking forward to starting the four-day summer when I get back home as well.”
With Australia having lost the ODI series 4-1, there are questions about the team’s morale. As a newcomer to the set-up, Behrendorff knows he can do his bit to keep the mood of the squad upbeat. “The morale is really good. The boys that played in the one-day series have had a couple of days off and they have really had a good time relaxing and recovering,” he said. “There are five of us that have just joined the squad for the T20. We are full of energy, ready to go and really looking forward to an exciting series.
“That’s something we speak about. Having a good attitude at training, good attitude at games making sure we are doing everything we can to be as upbeat and positive as we can all the time. That’s a big part of the new guys in the group – myself and the other guys who just flew in – to have that energy and bring that to the group and keep everyone buzzing. We know all the boys have done everything they need to do and will do over the next couple of days to be ready to go.”
Source: ESPN Crickinfo