@Aadya_Wisden 4 minute read
In his last two months in India, Josh Inglis has replaced Alex Carey as Australia’s incumbent ODI wicketkeeper, pocketed a World Cup winners medal and hit Australia’s joint-fastest century in men’s T20Is. Aadya Sharma writes on an innings that could turn things around for him.
Most of us really didn’t really have enough mental energy to watch another India-Australia game this week. That’s before Josh Inglis did what he did.
When he walked back to applause from his camp, sweating profusely, Aaron Finch’s ten-year-old Australia record for the fastest men’s T20I century had been equalled. It had taken Inglis 47 balls to enter three figures, cracking open India’s new-look attack from all sides, and ensuring Australia walked into the innings with a meaty score and a few more.
There were so many highlights, but among all of his ridiculously timed leg-side swipes, the most eye-catching stroke was actually a deft push off a low full toss. Mukesh Kumar’s delivery came to Inglis’ toes, but he managed to merely push it past point, the ball flying to the fence. Axar Patel, in the ring, couldn’t believe what he saw. It emphasised just how well he was timing them.
A further 22 balls into Inglis’ innings, Suryakumar Yadav, the incumbent Mr. 360 of the T20 format, gasped in awe as Inglis pulled out a brazen reverse ramp to move from 94 to 98.
On a flat wicket with plenty of dew, Inglis looked in his zone from the time he replaced Matthew Short in the middle, giving a rather scratchy Steve Smith company. His first challenge would have been to navigate Ravi Bishnoi, whose googles can really cut sharply into right-handers. A cracking drive off his very first delivery was enough to suggest there is going to be little difficulty reading him.
As he progressed further into his innings, you realised how Inglis didn’t seem to have any apparent technical weakness. The start was steady: he scored only nine of his first ten. With the powerplay done, Suryakumar switched one of the spinners to bring back Prasidh Krishna.
It didn’t quite work.
With midwicket back on the fence, Inglis made full use of Krishna feeding him deliveries outside off. A short, wide delivery made its way over deep point. He followed it up with two more fours to turn it into a 19-run over. Having played enough of the BBL, he really had no difficulty teeing off against Indian quicks. Against spin, his wicketkeeper’s wrists served as a decent advantage, so did his lateral movement in the crease.
– 110 runs
– 50 balls
– 11 fours
– 8 sixes
– 220.00 strike rate
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) November 23, 2023
Bishnoi would have been the best antidote, but Inglis had little difficulty dealing with him, or his googlies. For anything short, he rocked back and powered them over the midwicket fence. If it was fuller, he cleared his front leg and played through the line, often aerially. Bishnoi was especially treated with disdain: six of his eight sixes came against the leggie, completely neutralising his advantage against right-hand batters.
There was the odd mishit too, but Inglis kept picking up his rate with a series of boundaries, often one after another. Three sixes in four balls off Bishnoi took him into the nineties. Two balls later, the reverse hit off Arshdeep left him two short of his maiden T20I century. In fact, until today, he didn’t have a fifty in 12 innings. The average has jumped from 26.5 to 34.09. The strike rate from 144.02 to 160.25.
In a short career, and despite not yet having an IPL contract, Inglis has earned considerable experience of playing in India. He played two T20Is here last year, batting at No.5, and played a couple of ODIs in the middle order before featuring in his maiden World Cup campaign. When the out-of-form Alex Carey, their first-choice keeper, was swapped out for Inglis, there was curiosity as to how he would go. Kerry O’Keefe called him “nimble and effective”, opining that he could do well against spinners in the middle overs.
Inglis has sizeable BBL experience, and the reputation of being a floater, but it was the T20 Blast a couple of seasons ago where Inglis really pushed his case big. He top-scored with 531 runs at strike rate of 175.82 including two centuries for Leicestershire. Not long before, Ricky Ponting had pushed for Inglis’ case as Australia’s wicketkeeper for the 2021 T20 World Cup. “I really liked what I saw from him batting in the middle order in last summer’s BBL. He plays spin really well and you think about where the World Cup is going to be.”
He ended up in the squad but did not get a game. Two years later, he’s added another T20 century to his tally. And now, with a World Cup medal already in his kit, Inglis is finally progressing from being just a backup option.
“It’s always tough when you’re when you’re travelling with a squad and you don’t get that game time,” Inglis said after replacing Carey at the World Cup. “You can train as well as you like, but without playing any games, you’ve got nothing to really fall back on.” Given how he batted, the backup tag can be set aside for now.
Also, with less than a month to go for the IPL auction, Inglis can be prepared for a windfall.
His time might finally be here.