Matt Short only needed 35 balls to put himself on the path from Big Bash outsider to one of BBL|11’s most devastating hitters.
After being selected for just five games last season, the contract-free Short had met with Adelaide Strikers head coach Jason Gillespie at the end of the summer to discuss his future with the club.
While always confident he would earn another contract, which became a reality in October, Short Gillespie emphasized that he wanted to be more than just the bit-and-piece player he had been during his three years at the club , where he would be called upon to fill a hole in the batting order, or bowl one or two over.
“I wouldn’t say I begged for a chance at the top of the order,” Short tells cricket.com.au. “But we just discussed where I see myself in white-ball cricket.
“Growing up as a youngster, I was always opening the blow. And I think that’s where I feel most comfortable.”
When this summer’s schedule revealed a clash with the opening weeks of the Big Bash and the start of the Australian Summer Test, which also included an Australia A match that meant 25 of the country’s top players from the BBL were about to fall, Short sensed the chance that he had waited.
With regular Strikers opener Alex Carey absent for at least the first two games of the season, Short had a chance to open in Adelaide’s opening games, both against the Melbourne Renegades, hitting a combined 61 runs from just 35 balls. to make a backup. those words to Gillespie with action.
And after the Tim Paine scandal saw Carey suddenly elevated to the Test side for most of the summer, Short’s early form left him with the opening role to himself.
“The whole Tim Paine thing and ‘Kez’ (Carey) getting a chance in the Test side, I think I should be thankful for that,” he says.
“I knew I had a shot at the top of the rankings (so) I had a bit of a focus on the first few matches. I really wanted to start the tournament well and build my confidence early, which I think I did pretty well against the Renegades.
“And it’s rolled over from the first two games.”
On Monday, Short was named to the BBL’s official Team of the Tournament after a campaign that set a club record of 487 runs, with a strike rate of 156.08, leaving him behind only Glenn Maxwell in the league’s top 25, while his 26 sixes is second only to Ben McDermott’s 29.
He was also a reliable player with the ball, taking eight wickets, and he is one of only five bowlers in the league to knock down 40 or more overs at a cut rate of less than seven.
After three seasons in the blue delivering just four scores over 30 and a total of two wickets, he was the find of the tournament.
Key to his transformation with the bat was the off-season work he did with Victoria coach Chris Rogers, viewing footage of baseball players and the likes of Chris Lynn and Tim David to learn how to maximize his long reach and power. .
Modifications to his stance and movement prior to attack allowed him to transfer his weight through the ball more effectively, while a small change in his grip has resulted in a more open face and more power.
But just as importantly, Short’s self-confidence — which he admits has “had a few issues in recent years” — is at an all-time high.
A conversation with Rogers and state captain Peter Handscomb just weeks before those crucial games against the Renegades proved to be the catalyst for his breakthrough season.
“They supported me and just told me, ‘Go out and do your thing and play your natural game,’” he recalls.
“I’ve been through phases over the last few years (before Victoria) where I’ve played some really good games, but it’s always been a bit patchy.
“After that conversation, I just looked back (on previous matches) and said: I do belong here, I’ve played some good games already, so there’s no reason why I couldn’t keep doing that.
“It’s about believing in yourself and knowing that you belong there.
“That’s something to take out of this league in Shield cricket and one-day cricket: You know you can do it, now let’s try to keep that consistency. That’s the next thing to work on.”
Two ex-Victoria teammates were also key allies for Short in the Strikers camp; assistant coach Cameron White, who has continued the off-season technical work, and veteran Peter Siddle, who has seen a marked transformation in the 26-year-old.
“We never really gave him a safe place, so he was always thrown into different roles and he could never settle,” Siddle said of Short’s first three seasons at the club.
“We probably think about how much confidence he has with the bat in hand, but I think the bigger advantage we’ve had as a team is that we played him as our fifth bowler. That’s where his confidence has grown; it leadership he’s shown on the pitch… and the way he’s done his bowling, that was a big plus for us.
“And he’s a super outfield player, so he’s going to be the ultimate cricketer.
“What a great find for us, to give him that opportunity and for him to seize it like he has all season.”