New South Wales Blues rookie leg-spinner Dan Fallins has been included in a 14-man squad to play South Australia in its round seven JLT Sheffield Shield match starting on Friday at the SCG.
The 21-year-old is one of two spinners to be selected in the squad which also includes the leading wicket taker for NSW last season, Will Somerville. He claimed 35 wickets at an average of 23 in seven matches during 2016-17.
In November, Fallins made his First Class debut for a Cricket Australia XI against England in a tour match at the Adelaide Oval. The wrist spinner came to the attention of many in the Australian cricket community in the first innings of that match after he claimed 5-73.
He also played in another tour match for the Cricket Australia XI against the English in Townsville a week later and finished with nine wickets at 28 across the two matches.
Fallins is the latest graduate of the NSW pathway, which claimed all four National Championships this season. This included titles in female Under 15 and Under 18 age groups, along with the male Under 17 and Under 19 competitions.
Nathan Lyon is the only player missing from the 13-man squad which travelled to Perth last week, where the Blues lost to Western Australia by four wickets. The Australian off-spinner joins the Australian squad heading to South Africa for the four-Test series.
In-form top-order batsman Ed Cowan said that while there is traditionally turn at the SCG, whether or not two spinners play in the match, is still undecided.
“I’m sure the captain and coach will have a look tomorrow, but it’s an exciting time for Dan Fallins,” Cowan said.
“(He) deserves an opportunity, and he if gets one, he’ll be ready.”
However, with a tongue firmly in cheek, Cowan was a little surprised he wasn’t considered as a possible spin bowling option, especially after his recent return of 3-28 for Sydney University against North Sydney in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket. They were his career best figures.
“When they said two spinners I just thought I was the second one,” he said.
“We’ve actually got three spinners, so let’s hope it turns.”
Cowan was the leading run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield last season with 959 runs at 73.76 and has continued that form in the three matches he has played this season.
He has 240 runs to his name at 48.00 batting in the middle-order. Cowan also enters this match just 10 runs of short the magnificent achievement of 10,000 First Class runs.
The 35-year-old said that the next two games back-to-back at the SCG, against South Australia and Tasmania respectively, were crucial to the Blues’ title hopes.
“We find ourselves in second … with two games on a home ground we know so much about, if we can win these next two, we really feel that we can sort of top it off and we can push for a final.”
South Australia is currently in last place on the ladder and has lost the last two Shield fixtures against the Blues, including the corresponding match at the SCG last season which NSW won by eight wickets.
Cowan said that despite the loss at the WACA Ground last week, there were encouraging signs for the Blues.
“We certainly had snippets of playing really solid cricket, but probably not for long enough.”
“I think we’re probably five per cent off.”
“If we can bat, I think certainly, a little longer than we did, and post a bigger first innings score, then I think our bowlers will do a job for us.”
NSW Blues squad:
Peter NEVILL (c)