Fast bowler Xavier Bartlett has sealed an incredible piece of Aussie cricket history after another stunning display with the ball in his side's series-clinching demolition of the West Indies in Canberra. Bartlett took another four wickets to go with his four from game one as the Aussies thrashed the Windies by eight wickets in the shortest men's ODI ever on home soil.
Bartlett (4-21) starred with ball as the home side skittled the hapless tourists for just 86 runs in 24.1 overs. A swashbuckling innings from Aussie young gun Jake Fraser-McGurk (41 runs off 18) and an unbeaten 35 from Josh Inglis saw the Aussies chase down the paltry target with a whopping 43.1 overs or 259 balls to spare.
Aussie quick Bartlett was named player of the series after his four-wicket haul in Canberra to go with his stunning 4-17 on debut for Australia in the opening ODI at the MCG. Bartlett's staggering figures of 8-38 across those two matches represent the best ever for an Australian bowler across their opening two games in ODI cricket.
Lance Morris in cruel injury blow
Australia's record victory came at a cost for Test hopeful Lance Morris, however, with the tearaway quick forced off the ground just three balls into his fifth over after experiencing pain down his left side. Morris had the impressive figures of 2-13 before having to come from the field, with Cricket Australia confirming that the 25-year-old had suffered a side strain and would be sent for scans.
"He just said he had a bit of pain in the side and was struggling a bit, so he'll get a scan in the next 12 to 24 hours and we'll know more then," captain Steven Smith said. "He was probably a little bit nervous the other day making his debut, but he was starting to get some nice rhythm.
"He's been great around the group, for over a year now he's been there or thereabouts and it's great to see him get a couple of games in." The setback is a cruel blow to Morris' hopes of being picked for Australia's upcoming Test tour of New Zealand, with selectors expected to name their squad later this week.
Morris is yet to make his Test debut after being carefully managed through Australia's recent Test two Test series against Pakistan and the Windies. He ultimately went unused as pace trio Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc played all five matches. The Aussies play the first of their two Tests against New Zealand in Wellington on February 29, with an injury cloud now hanging over Morris' availability.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) February 6, 2024
Lance Morris suffered a side strain after taking his first two ODI wickets, leaving him in doubt to tour New Zealand with Australia's Test squad later this monthhttps://t.co/V88gylB9D2
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) February 6, 2024
The injury to Morris leaves Aussie selectors with a big call to make after fellow back-up Test paceman Scott Boland suffered knee soreness in Victoria's Sheffield Shield match against South Australia. Boland was unable to bowl in the second innings and may also be a doubt for the New Zealand Test series, with man of the moment Bartlett among those who could benefit.
Xavier Bartlett bowls himself into Test calculations
Bartlett was the leading wicket-taker in this year's BBL competition and was instrumental in Brisbane Heat's title triumph. His superb form has seen the 25-year-old fast bowlers stocks rise rapidly, with Test veteran Smith among those to suggest he could be on the verge of breaking into Australia's red-ball squad.
"It's possible, there's plenty of options out there," Smith said about Bartlett. "We're certainly not short of fast bowlers at the moment, you throw (Michael) Neser in there, (Scott) Boland, obviously he's been around a lot, Jhye Richardson, he's played a bit and he's quality as well.
"I remember facing him probably five or six years ago in the Gabba nets before a Test match ... I thought 'jeez, this guy presents a beautiful seam', which you don't often see. I just remembered that randomly, and then seeing him come out in this series and bowl the way he did was outstanding. He presented that seam I spoke about, swung it and got the rewards so it looks like he's got a bright future."
Another man with a bright future is batting prodigy Fraser-McGurk, whose entertaining knock drew comparisons to Glenn Maxwell and announced the 21-year-old to the cricket world. "It was exciting, wasn't it? When he hits them, they certainly stay hit," Smith said about his teammate.
"He's certainly not short of confidence and it's cool to see someone come in and at the age of 21, just play with such freedom and no fear at all. It's cool to watch and I'm sure he's gonna have some learnings along the way and things like that. But the way he's playing right now, it's exciting for everyone to watch."
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