Most of the frontline Australia quicks are not part of this year's IPL for a variety of reasons, but the uncapped Matt Kelly has earned a call-up as an injury replacement for Kolkata Knight Riders
How has he got his IPL gig?
Through impressive performances in the recent Big Bash League for Perth Scorchers, where his skills at the death, particularly his yorker, stood out. Although the Scorchers had a miserable season, Kelly impressed in the seven matches he played taking 11 wickets with an economy rate of 7.74. There is a Western Australia/Scorchers link to Knight Riders as well, with Simon Katich being the assistant coach of the IPL franchise, which could well have helped the move.
"I think with the budget we had and the kind of options we had, we felt Matt Kelly fit the bill," Knight Riders mentor Abhishek Nayar said. "He hits hard lengths, has bowled very well in the BBL in death overs. He also contributes with the bat. So we felt like when we invested in someone like Harry Gurney it was more about seeing the kind of skills he has that adds to the team, which is one of the reasons why we shortlisted Matt Kelly."
Yorkers, you say…
Yes, indeed, that skill that has taken a bit of a back seat in recent years with bowlers trying a whole host of variations to try and overcome batsmen who are ever-more innovative with scoops and flicks. It remains a fact, though, that a good yorker (and they aren't easy to deliver on cue) remains very difficult to score off despite all the shots batsmen have these days. Kelly's ability caught the eye of someone who used to be world-class at delivering them…
That's the length https://t.co/GlqmcKF8Q5— Brett Lee (@BrettLee_58) April 11, 2019
Never mind the IPL, how about Australia selection?
Australia are pretty well-stocked with quality quicks across all formats at the moment, but Kelly will certainly be one to keep an eye on with a view to the 2020 T20 World Cup and beyond. Mark Waugh, the former Australia selector, suggested Kelly could be a late inclusion for this year's World Cup in England if any one of the first-choice picks are injured, even though he's only played five List A matches.
"One thing we do lack slightly is a really good death bowler - a guy who can bowl yorkers at the end of the innings and he's really good at that," Waugh told Big Sports Breakfast. "He played for the Scorchers and WA. He's a bit of a smoky but I'd have him the mix."
This guy Matt Kelly from @ScorchersBBL has the best yorker in the competition . One to keep a close eye on.— Mark Waugh (@juniorwaugh349) February 1, 2019
Will he get into the Knight Riders XI?
Tough to say at the moment. Knight Riders are second on the table, so are going quite nicely although they were heavily beaten by Chennai Super Kings in their last match. That loss, however, was a failure of the batting unit, which could only make 108 for 9. Their four overseas players in that game were fellow Australian Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell and Gurney. Russell is enjoying the form of his life, Narine is a key allrounder and Lynn wouldn't be a like-for-like role so it could come down to him playing off for a spot with Gurney.
What about the other formats?
As mentioned, he only has five one-day matches under his belt but his early numbers are good, with nine wickets at 22.77 and an economy rate of 4.69. It's not just white-ball, either, where he has shown plenty of promise. He was Western Australia's leading wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield with 30 wickets at 28.53 including a career-best 6 for 67 against South Australia. He certainly has a chance of featuring in the Australia A squads for the tour of England, which will be named next week.