Cricket: Australian Domestic scene: Doug Bollinger and Ben Laughlin


Doug Bollinger in action during the 2013 Ryobi Cup (source: ESPN Cricinfo/Getty Images)

Doug Bollinger in action during the 2013 Ryobi Cup (source: ESPN Cricinfo/Getty Images)

They both play for the same Big Bash League team, the Hobart Hurricanes.  When it comes to the two longer forms of the domestic game, the left-arm and right-arm quick respectively are on opposing sides.

Enter New South Welshman Doug Bollinger, and Tasmanian Ben Laughlin.  One steams in with sheer determination, the other bowls extremely well at the death of 20 over and 50 over matches.

Bollinger

Having fallen out of favour with the Australian selectors, the enthusiastic and larrikin-like Bollinger continues to make inroads in the state competitions, despite the occasional brain-fade.

A total of 12 tests has yielded 50 wickets, including two five wicket hauls and quite a respectable economy rate and average.  The swing and movement he is able to generate has befuddled even the best and most powerful hitters in world cricket, including West Indian dynamo Chris Gayle.

Grabbing his opportunity to represent the national side with gusto, Bollinger’s heart of gold made him an instant hit with the Australians and had opposition teams fearful.  Working very hard to secure his maiden test cap, Bollinger’s 2007-2008 Pura Cup (now Sheffield Shield) season with the ball yielded 45 wickets at an average of 15.44

Bollinger secured 37 scalps the season before, and it came as no surprise that he was given a Cricket Australia contract and added to the squad to tour the West Indies, albeit as a latecomer.

Over a two-year period Bollinger earned great respect from his teammates, given the now infamous nickname “Doug the Rug” and even managed to kiss the beer logo on his Australian shirt, rather than the coat of arms, during a tour of New Zealand.

Standing 192cm tall, Bollinger has become the spearhead for New South Wales, having taken almost 300 first class wickets in just over 80 matches.

Laughlin

Having moved to Queensland from Victoria to begin his domestic career, Laughlin immediately left his mark on other sides that he was a force to be reckoned with.  A List A strike rate of 28.5 is superb, and after just one state season was already in the mix to be called up to the Australian side.

What stands out so brightly for Laughlin is his ability to trouble batsmen not with outright pace and bounce, but crafty changes in swing and seam is his best asset.  Nabbing a career best 6/23 against New South Wales in Queensland, his work in the white ball formats began to outshine his stints with the red ball.

A run of half a dozen matches for Australia, 5 one day internationals and a Twenty20, against South Africa in South Africa, stemmed from a second successful state season with the Bulls.  While he did not secure a national contract, he bowled well for Australia and picked up key South African wickets.

Injuries plague pace bowlers, and Laughlin was struck down with a stomach bug in 2009-2010, playing just six games.  Laughlin moved over to Tasmania for the start of the 2011/2012 season, but it was both BBL|01 and BBL|02 where he made Australia sit up and notice.  He takes to the field with courage, and then uses the white ball so effectively that he took the most wickets (14) in last season’s Big Bash League.

Laughlin takes a stunning catch v Sri Lanka, 2013 (source: ESPN Cricinfo/Getty Images)

Laughlin takes a stunning catch v Sri Lanka, 2013 (source: ESPN Cricinfo/Getty Images)

What’s happened to them now?

A cricketer’s life of selection will include many factors.  Bollinger is 32, while Laughlin turned 31 in October.  In some ways, they are the unsung heroes for their Australian state teams – both are front-line bowlers and have great records at List A and First Class level.

Maturity for Bollinger as a bowler came later than most after time was spent developing his action.  For Laughlin, it has been a matter of having the opportunity at a high level.  While the one day arena has been far more friendly to Laughlin, his first class economy rate is just a tick under 3.5 runs per over.

Can either player make the Australian one day side again?  The signs point to yes, although age might make the selectors think twice.  Bollinger is aggressive and fast, but must control a short fuse temper.  Laughlin has the guile, but an economy rate of almost six in ODI’s is not stunning.

There is a few years to go before either will give up the ghost.  Bollinger continues to give New South Wales aggression, having taken 14 wickets from his 3 Shield matches this current season.  Laughlin will have to bide his time until the Big Bash League, which starts in less than three weeks.  Will either get another Australian cap? If form this season remains strong, there is no reason why their names cannot be on selection papers.

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