Widely tipped to receive his first Test cap for Australia next month after missing out against England, Ross McLean talks to ex-Kendal Cricket Club professional Alex Doolan – seemingly the next cab off the rank.
INCLUDED in Australia’s squad for the final knockout blow of the Ashes annihilation, former Shap Road professional Alex Doolan may not have long to wait for his baggy green.
The uncapped 28-year-old was called-up for the fifth Test against England in Sydney but took a seat in the pavilion as Shane Watson recovered from a groin injury.
Australia went unchanged throughout the Ashes whitewash but reports suggest Doolan is in line to replace his Tasmanian captain George Bailey in next month’s three-Test tour of South Africa.
Despite only scoring 391 runs at 39.10 for his state this year, chairman of selectors John Inverarity believes Doolan’s cool temperament and upright technique will suit Test cricket.
So less than six months after making his final appearance for Kendal in a four-wicket loss to Barrow, the right-hander could well feature in Australia’s first Test against South Africa in Pretoria.
For now though, Doolan returns to Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash and while honoured to receive a call-up to the national squad, he is solely concentrating on domestic run-scoring.
“I would love for my inclusion to be a regular thing but that is not something I can control,” he said.
“I just have to get performing for Tasmania and then hope selection goes my way – first-class runs is the greatest currency and that is exactly what I have to produce.
“To be honest I was stunned to get the call for the fifth Ashes Test. My mind couldn't have been further away from Test cricket due to a hectic Big Bash schedule.
“In saying that, it was an extremely proud moment to be able to phone my fiancé and my parents to let them know the news.
“My first day training was quite something and having some of my first-class team-mates and coaches among the group made for a familiar feel.”
Australia are likely to come up against pace stars Dale Steyn, Vernon Phillander and Morne Morkel on fast bowler-friendly pitches in South Africa.
Doolan has previous with members of this star-studded attack, scoring an unbeaten 161 for Australia A against the touring South Africans in November 2012, although to him this is history.
Tipped to join fellow Tasmanian Ricky Ponting in occupying the number three berth for Australia, Doolan – who shared two century stands with the former Test captain last season – accepts there is no greater master to learn from.
“That innings did give me a tremendous boost, however it was a long time ago now – new challenges and experiences have come and gone and new ones await,” he added.
“If you look too far back or too far forward then you go nowhere so each day is about getting better. It’s probably an innings I will look back on when my career is over and smile.
“In terms of Ricky, he was extremely generous towards me and I will be forever grateful for that. To now be able to call him a friend is a huge honour.
“There is absolutely nothing better than sharing a changing room with the best players in the world.”
Doolan’s spell in Cumbria last summer was short-lived, departing in mid-July after receiving a call-up to the Australia A squad touring England.
Nevertheless, his time at Kendal is far from forgotten and he firmly hopes the club will mount a sustained assault on silverware this year and beyond.
“It’s always good to continue playing cricket all year round and it was great Kendal Cricket Club offered me that opportunity,” he said.
“However, my time there was disappointing from a cricket point of view.
“The club was so welcoming to both myself and my fiancé but unfortunately I wasn’t able to repay the club with my performances.
“The Baker family were especially generous taking me in as their surrogate son – hopefully the two boys have inherited Mike's talents in the kitchen.
“With Tony George at the helm I have no doubt the club will return to the top of the table and be polishing many trophies in the not too distant future.”
Kendal’s signing of Doolan was a gamble and while not proving universally successful, skipper Stu Parkin appreciates the quality of player that was among the club’s ranks.
“His call-up for the fifth Ashes Test didn’t come as a surprise to me as we knew when we signed Alex there was a chance of a call-up,” he said.
“Cricket Australia wanted him in the country last summer as cover for the Ashes squad so we knew he was on the fringes of things.
“It was a bit of a risk us signing Alex and he didn’t play as many games as we hoped but having trained with him it was clear he is a guy who makes batting look very easy.
“It was a joy to watch him in the nets and during the few games he played and it’s always good for the club to be associated with players of that calibre.
“His call-up to the squad was superb and we’re all very pleased for him.”