‘He’s got a bright future’: Bartlett bolts into Test frame as selectors face choice over injured quicks
Australia’s one-sided ODI series sweep against the West Indies may have unleashed the country’s pace bowler of the future with Xavier Bartlett bolting into the Test selection frame.
Bartlett, 25, picked up man-of-the-series honours in his debut for the nation, finishing with the staggering figures of 8-38 across his two outings in the 3-0 whitewash.
Building on a BBL campaign where he led the competition’s wicket-taking and helped the Brisbane Heat win the title, Bartlett’s sky-rocketing stocks could see him on the fringes of Test selection in the near future.
Much like fellow paceman Lance Morris has been with the Test side to deputise for Australia’s front-line quicks, ODI captain Steve Smith believed Bartlett could be in line for similar treatment soon.
“It’s possible, there’s plenty of options out there,” he said.
“We’re certainly not short of fast bowlers at the moment, you throw (Michael) Neser in there, (Scott) Boland, obviously he’s been around a lot, Jhye Richardson, he’s played a bit and he’s quality as well.”
Richardson and Morris are both in doubt for the upcoming New Zealand tour due to side strains, Neser has been below his best with the ball for Queensland while Boland is likely to be right despite being bothered by a knee problem recently.
The selectors are likely to choose two quicks as back-up to Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood with Bartlett now firmly in the mix.
Smith was glowing in his praise of Bartlett, who tore apart the West Indies and took 4-21 as Australia rolled them for just 86 at Manuka Oval on Tuesday.
“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 randomly, 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 so it looks like he’s got a bright future.”
Australian legend Mark Waugh on Fox Cricket commentary said Bartlett should be in the selection panel’s thoughts for a Test role.
“You don’t see many genuine swing bowlers in world cricket these days. They are few and far between, good quality swing bowlers.”
Batting starlet Jake Fraser-McGurk also enjoyed his first run in the national team, flashing his considerable potential making 41 off 18 balls in Australia’s easy chase.
“It was exciting, wasn’t it? When he hits them, they certainly stay hit,” Smith said.
“He’s certainly not short of confidence and it’s cool to see someone come in and at the age of 21, just play with such freedom and no fear at all.
“It’s cool to watch and I’m sure he’s gonna have some learnings along the way and things like that.
“But the way he’s playing right now, it’s exciting for everyone to watch.”