The resurgence of the former Victorian skipper – first at state, and now at national level – over the last two years has been nothing short of sensational.
His last two domestic one-day competitions (accumulated) have seen him pile on 741 runs at an average above 67. In the Big Bash League (past two seasons), he has 385 runs at an average above 25.
Although he has not played a One-Day International since 2011, and only a handful of Twenty20 Internationals in the past 12 months, trying to deny White‘s form could be Australia’s downfall. Selectors, take notice.
The World Cup starts in just over three months. White’s statement has already been made. At 31, the experience and career the right-hander has carved out is a massive advantage for the green and gold.
His 41 from 31 balls against South Africa in the final Twenty20 in Sydney on Sunday wasn’t the flashiest innings ever, but it was a composed knock with four boundaries and a six.
That composure is White’s greatest asset, something of a necessary requirement at a competition such as the World Cup. Speaking after the Sydney game, he didn’t talk his chances up, but recognised the opportunity to snare a spot in the squad was there for the taking.
Versatility is yet another key that White possesses, having been pushed down the order during the Twenty20 series against South Africa, to accommodate the likes of left-hander Ben Dunk at the top of the order.
Forgetting the fact that White has not played an ODI since 2011 in Dhaka, his impressive run of form since the start of the 2013/2014 summer is extremely hard to ignore. While Aaron Finch, Dunk and Shane Watson couldn’t get Australia over the line, it was White that could.
The force White hits his shots with mean once it’s pierced the field, there’s no chance of stopping the ball flying to the boundary. Teammate and Twenty20 captain Finch said that the form of recent seasons should be a factor if White is picked for Australia.
“I think his record for Australia speaks for itself. It’s been pretty outstanding for a long time.”
Where Maxwell tried, White succeeded in this latest series. Despite being essentially shoe-horned to short form status only in green and gold colours, the captaincy transition to Matthew Wade at state level helped White turn his game around. The man from Bairnsdale has a one day strike rate of 80, and in T20s it is 133.
Next Sunday’s start to the one-dayers against the visiting Proteas would have given White the chance he needed to impress the selectors. However, with such a chop-and-change dynamic of late, and the uncertainty of spots with out-of-form players, White’s chances would hang in the balance, despite his stellar run.
The onus now should be on selecting the best players based on runs scored and current form. The likes of Shaun Marsh and Ed Cowan would that bill with recent centuries in the Sheffield Shield, and so would South Australian fast bowler Chadd Sayers. Selectors need to look past previous opportunities in this case and put the strongest side on the field come February 14 against England.
The biggest question is: can White take his blistering domestic form, and replicate it in the green and gold? His performance in Sydney suggests yes. Discounting the Victorian is not ideal, and for Australia to bounce back on cricket’s biggest stage after a wobbly 2011 campaign, guys like White are worth their weight in gold.