Think of Australian fast bowlers in the recent past and the mind immediately pictures Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson or Mitchell Starc. Players with broad shoulders who breathed fire down their opponent’s necks with their fiery pace and intimidating personas.
Standing at just over six feet, releasing balls at an amicable pace of 130-135 clicks, always bowling with a broad smile, Australia’s newest T20I sensation Nathan Ellis though is none of what his esteemed predecessors have been. Nevertheless, it was this not so threatening, lanky pacer from Tasmania who managed to script history in the shortest format of the game when afforded his chance, picking up a hat-trick on debut, shattering archaic fast bowler stereotypes once and for all.
“I love cricket, I’ve always wanted to play cricket, so who should have that authority to tell me that I’m good enough or not tall enough or anything like that,” started off Nathan Ellis in an exclusive interview with Punjab Kings.
“Stereotypes like that are dangerous, and they can limit what could have been potentially a great player. It makes me think back in the day how many players have had their names chalked out just because they don’t look a certain way,” he added.
The 26-year-old also recalled a personal experiences of being that kid in age group cricket who had his name chalked out for flimsy reasons.
“The challenge I had growing up was that I’m not six foot five, and that’s typically what the average Australian fast bowler is, so that’s something that came in my way in terms of selection in under age level cricket. You can easily be stereotyped in a certain way.”
“But if you are taking lots of wickets and performing really well, they can’t ignore you forever,” empathically announced the new Punjab Kings recruit.
And perform he did, picking up 12 wickets in his debut Big Bash League season, while maintaining an economy rate marginally above seven. He bettered that performance significantly in the subsequent season, emerging as the leading wicket-taker for the Hobart Hurricanes in the last Big Bash League season.
Ellis also made his mark for Tasmania in First Class cricket, getting 35 wickets in seven matches at a staggering average of 25. With performances like those, the 26-year-old almost hammered his way through the system, getting the call-up to the T20 side, culminating in that dream debut.
Circumstances didn’t quite favour him in the past, but Ellis though was quick to acknowledge that he sees a difference in the way talent is now perceived and judged due to the growth of T20 cricket. “The game of cricket should be based around the weight of runs and weight of wickets, that’s the currency all teams should by.”
“And I think that’s happening now because of T20 cricket where players that don’t look technically perfect are getting their opportunities just through performances,” concluded the Australian seamer.