It took Ashton Turner just 43 balls in his second ODI to stake claim to a spot in Australia’s World Cup squad. You can gauge how new he is to international cricket given Shikhar Dhawan referred to him as ‘that guy’ in the post-match press conference. What made it even more frustrating for Dhawan was the fact that Turner’s 43-ball 84 nullified his 143 run knock in the first inning.
A question on the minds of many in the Indian dressing room, and cricketing fans, now is: who is Ashton Turner? One could excuse them for not expecting the big hitting that he dished out, given his international cricket career is just two ODIs and five T20Is old. Considered a specialist in the shortest format, he has scored 26 runs in four innings, with a previous high score of 18 runs.
But ask teams in the Big Bash League (BBL), and they’d describe Turner as a player who thrives in the shortest format of the game. Batting for Perth Scorchers in the middle-order, Turner was their best batsman in the last season of the BBL, and built a reputation for providing massive finishes between the 15th and 20th overs, especially when chasing, much like he did in Mohali.
He top-scored for the Scorchers and finished as the seventh-highest scorer in the BBL with 378 runs with an average of 31.50, complementing his 193 runs at 38.60 in the domestic one-day cup.
Five games before the end of his second BBL season, Turner averaged 48.80 when he batted in the second inning. Such were his exploits in the late stages of an inning that no other player in the past two BBL seasons scored more runs than Turner between overs 15 to 20. He also has the best strike rate in those overs.
Turner was being nurtured as an all-rounder. At the Under-19 World Cup in 2012, he was Australia’s leading wicket-taker with 11 wickets in six matches. But multiple shoulder injuries forced him to undergo surgeries, and he gave up on bowling to focus on batting, and reinvent his game.
Inside the Australian camp, they had already hyped up Turner.
“We’ve been talking about getting players who can finish off innings and he’s shown, particularly in what we can go off in Big Bash cricket, he’s in great form,” said Australia coach Justin Langer.
“He finishes off innings well, he’s an elite athlete in the field and he’s also captain. You see the way he finishes off innings that he’s a good thinker of the game, like most of the great finishers,” added Langer. Skipper Aaron Finch called him the “most exciting” talent in Australia’s squad prior to the ODI series against India.
IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals clearly tracked his progress and splashed out Rs 50 lakh for him in the IPL auction. “I have no idea why they picked me. To wake up to the news that I was going to Rajasthan was really exciting and I can’t wait to get over there,” he told Western Australian the day after the IPL auction.
In Mohali, Turner, paced his innings beautifully. He started off slowly to pick up his first 20 runs. Thereafter, he started to accelerate slowly before going on a rampage. It did help his cause that India had a terrrible day in the field and gave him multiple chances to bat on. And to think, he could have been out of the playing eleven had Marcus Stoinis recovered from his thumb injury.
But after his spectacular inning in Mohali, Turner has thrown his hat in the ring for a World Cup spot. It will only add to the headaches of the Australian selectors, given Steve Smith and David Warner are in the running too.