Jhye Richardson’s remarkable rise to Australia fame

25 Aug, 2018 10:12 am

CANBERRA (92 News) – Jhye Richardson’s rise from AFL to club cricket in Perth to Western Australia and finally to national and Big Bash League success has given Australia their latest fast-bowling hope.

Jhye Richardson is 21. At 20, he played his first Twenty20 International for Australia. In January this year, he made his one-day international debut against England and in March he flew to South Africa as a member of the Test squad. His maiden Test call-up did not culminate in a Test debut, but his reputation as a tearaway from Western Australia had been established.

Richardson is a member of Perth Scorchers in the BBL, who were formerly being mentored by the incumbent Australia head coach Justin Langer. Mitchell Johnson called him “a young bowler to keep an eye on” at the time of his first-class debut in 2016.

He is in India with Australia A to play a quadrangular series involving South Africa A and India B at the moment.

Richardson impressed in his first outing, picking up 3/27 in Australia A’s opening clash against India A in Bengaluru, and sent some jitters down the Indian camp, who were only chasing 152. He dismissed openers Ravikumar Samarth and Suryakumar Yadav as well as Sanju Samson in his first three overs. Although Australia did not end up on the winning side, Richardson has made an impression.

The WA fast bowler harbours ambitions of playing all three formats for Australia and understands the need to adapt to different conditions.

How did he rise up the ranks so quickly?

“I played for Fremantle, back in Perth. That’s a great club. We have so many Australian representatives go through that club. We have got the Marsh brothers, and we have got guys like Ashton Turner,” reflected Richardson.

Richardson made his ODI debut against England in January 2018

Now a professional, Richardson relishes whatever opportunity he gets to play club cricket. “Every time I get to play club cricket, it’s awesome, it’s a little bit more relaxed than national cricket,” he said. “So you can take a step back, take a breath and really go about your cricket and have some fun with those sort of guys and get those casual conversations that you might not get to do in the national squad.

“And I think that’s probably the main factor why I’ve exceeded people’s expectations and my expectations coming up because it has been fast-tracked – to get to learn from those guys at such an early age.”

But it didn’t begin at Fremantle for Richardson. In fact, it didn’t begin with cricket at all. Richardson started out as an Aussie Rules Football player.

“I played AFL football from quite a young age back home in Perth, and it was quite a difficult decision for me to choose between the two,” he said. “I love football, I always did, but I guess over time it came to me that I just wanted to play cricket and I enjoyed cricket more. And it has paid dividends. I love it even more than I did back then, but the thing I learned from football from an early age is learning (how) to be around the team environment.

Richardson plays for Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League

“Learning how not to be selfish around the team, learning to put the team first and (doing) what the team needs. Learning that from a young age has definitely helped me to really engage in a team environment.”

Richardson is capable of breaching the 90mph barrier, as he has shown in the four ODIs and seven T20Is that he has played, and it is quite obvious that he idolises those who bowled at such pace, none less than two of the greatest to have emerged from Perth – Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.

“There’s one thing that really stands out for me is when guys like Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee bowled at the WACA and they are bowling bouncers over the keeper’s head and they’re hitting the sight-screen one bounce,” Richardson said, adding that he regretted not watching too much cricket growing up.

“That’s obviously what every fast bowler wants to see – fast, bouncy wickets like that and then you hear stories of those guys … that’s just ridiculous in my opinion. That’s awesome and I wish I could have been there to see it.”

Mitchell Johnson once called Richardson 'a young bowler to keep an eye on'

One WA bowler Richardson did watch was Johnson, and getting high praise from one of the finest Australian fast bowlers left him elated.

“It makes you feel really good in the sense that he has played so much international cricket and he has got such a good name behind himself and to hear it from someone like him, it gives you great confidence in knowing what you’re doing is the right thing and how hard you’re working is what you need to do,” Richardson said.

“I’d like to think I’ve got a relatively good relationship with him now, just being able to learn off him for the Perth Scorchers, he has been amazing for my cricket.”

Richardson has added another weapon to Australia’s pack of fast bowlers that already has Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and a host of others. With the tour of the United Arab Emirates coming up and the home summer to follow, the youngster will hope to make the best of all his opportunities and possibly push his case for higher honours.

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