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‘What are they thinking bowling there?’ – When Bevan dispelled the short-ball theory

Bevan short
by Wisden Staff 2-minute read

It is said that his Test career met a premature end due to his long-standing problems against the short ball, but a 34-year-old Michael Bevan, out of national contention, gave a perfect account of how to play the short ball while representing Tasmania in 2005.

In a chat with cricket.com.au, Michael di Venuto, the former Australia opener, recalls the time Bevan batted like a dream in the 2004/2005 Sheffield Shield, countering the short stuff with unprecedented ease in a watershed season for the state.

Specifically recalling their game against New South Wales, when he and Bevan shared an unbeaten 277-run stand, di Venuto said that the usually serious Bevan even started poking fun at the bowling attack’s continued attempts to trouble him with short ones.

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“They bowled another short one to him and he hit it to the fence for four again,” di Venuto recalled. “We met mid-wicket, and he looked at me, shaking his head, and said something like: ‘What are they thinking bowling there to The Bevster?’

“I was just in stitches. It was the last thing I was expecting – he was generally so serious. If you bowled short to him, you went and picked it up out of the gutter.”

In a record-breaking season for Tasmania, Bevan garnered 1,464 runs at 97.60, smashing eight centuries with a high score of 190, the second time he had amassed 1,000+ runs in a single season after 1993/94.

Former Australia captain George Bailey, making his debut for Tasmania that year, also remembered how, with every stroke, Bevan dispelled the theory that he head a perceived problem against bouncers. “There were some quick bowlers running around domestic cricket at the time and I just remember thinking that (short-ball) theory was completely false,” Bailey said.

“It didn’t matter what teams bowled to him that year, he just never looked like he was in any trouble at any stage.”

Bevan, one of the greatest ODI batsmen of all time, played just 18 Tests for Australia in a four-year span, later admitting that his often-discussed issued with the short ball were more of a psychological issue, which led to him being typecast as a short-format expert.

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