Analysing Tasmania’s 2022-23 squad: Tigers’ time to shine, or will flaws prove too much?

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The 2021-22 season ended up being a very solid one for the Tasmanians, picking up a combined six wins, finishing third in both domestic competitions, and narrowly missing out on a place in the Shield final to the plucky Victorians.

While they’ll go into the upcoming season with optimism, there are a few holes in their squad that could ultimately hinder their success.

Last season in numbers

Sheffield Shield: Third (three wins, two draws, two losses)

Leading run-scorers

Tim Ward (552 runs at 39.43)
Jordan Silk (514 runs at 57.11)
Caleb Jewell (508 runs at 36.29)

Leading wicket-takers

Sam Rainbird (19 wickets at 11.74)
Peter Siddle (19 wickets at 23.32)
Gabe Bell (14 wickets at 29.21)

One-Day Cup: Third (three wins, one loss, two wash-outs)

Leading run-scorers

Ben McDermott (207 runs at 69.00)
Jordan Silk (207 runs at 69.00)
Mac Wright (109 runs at 27.25)

Leading wicket-takers

Peter Siddle (12 wickets at 11.17)
Riley Meredith (5 wickets at 11.80)
Tom Andrews (5 wickets at 33.40)

Tasmania 2022-23 squad

Tom Andrews, Gabe Bell, Jackson Bird, Iain Carlisle, Jake Doran, Nathan Ellis, Brad Hope, Caleb Jewell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Lawrence Neil-Smith, Sam Rainbird, Peter Siddle, Jordan Silk, Billy Stanlake, Matthew Wade, Charlie Wakim, Tim Ward, Beau Webster, Mac Wright

Rookies: Nick Davis, Jarrod Freeman, Mitch Owen, Nivethan Radhakrishnan

Ins and outs

Ins: Nick Davis (rookie), Billy Stanlake (Queensland)
Outs: Tim Paine

Not too much to speak of in terms of movement, with just Billy Stanlake making the move from his native Queensland in search of more opportunity, particularly in Shield cricket.

Nick Davis has been handed a rookie contract after an impressive season in Premier Cricket last season. Former Australian captain Tim Paine was not handed a contract for the upcoming season but has been training with the squad in hopes of making a return, although it remains to be seen whether he will actually play.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Squad breakdown

Batters: Caleb Jewell, Jordan Silk, Charlie Wakim, Tim Ward, Mac Wright

All-rounders: Tom Andrews, Brad Hope, Beau Webster, Nivethan Radhakrishnan (rookie), Mitch Owen (rookie)
Keepers: Jake Doran, Ben McDermott, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (uncontracted)

Fast bowlers: Gabe Bell, Jackson Bird, Iain Carlisle, Nathan Ellis, Riley Meredith, Lawrence Neil-Smith, Sam Rainbird, Peter Siddle, Billy Stanlake

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Spinners: Jarrod Freeman (rookie)

Analysis

The Tigers will likely be missing just Matthew Wade to international duty, with national selectors opting against choosing Ben McDermott or Riley Meredith for the T20 World Cup squad. Nathan Ellis will be around the Australian T20 squad over the next few months but is not in the World Cup squad either. This essentially means they will be at full strength for the majority of the season, and the side will only be strengthened with Wade’s eventual return.

After toiling away in NSW Premier Cricket for several years without much to show, Tim Ward’s move to Tasmania paid dividends last season, with the opener finishing as the side’s leading run-scorer in Shield cricket. His feats flew under the radar, and posting similar numbers again in 2022-23 would be an incredible achievement.

Jordan Silk made the move to the middle order in Shield cricket, after predominantly being an opening batter throughout his red-ball career. The move proved fruitful too, with Silk excelling in his new role and becoming an important cog in the top six.

McDermott seems to just get better and better and has proven himself as one of the best hitters of a white ball in Australia. His red-ball stocks continue to rise, and he appears poised to reach another level again this season.

Jewell, Wakim, Wright and Doran are all established contributors, but outside of them, there isn’t much batting depth within the squad, so the Tigers will be hoping for those four to repay the faith, or they could be forced to look outside the squad. Could Tim Paine be the answer to their depth issues?

Webster added yet another string to his bow last season, incorporating medium-pace bowling into his arsenal, as well as taking on the captaincy at times with Matthew Wade out of the side. Arguably the most versatile player in the country, his batting is still underrated, and Tasmania is incredibly fortunate to have him coming in as low as seven.

Ambidextrous rookie Radhakrishnan made his Shield debut last season and will be hoping to break back into the side throughout the season as he continues his development. All-rounder Brad Hope will be looking to nail down a spot but will need to impress with pressure for spots rising within the fast bowling ranks, while Mitch Owen is another who continues to develop and could be presented with more chances to shine this season.

The addition of Stanlake means that Tasmania has fast-bowling options aplenty, and despite seeking more opportunities, he may actually find it quite difficult to break into the side. His decision to move to Tassie could prove to be a bit of a head-scratcher in hindsight, especially if he doesn’t get the opportunities he is looking for.

Billy Stanlake of the Stars catches the ball during the Big Bash League

(Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

When Peter Siddle first arrived in the Apple Isle, he hoped to eventually be pushed out of the side by the younger fast bowlers in the squad, and that could very well happen this season, particularly in the Shield. The veteran is still thriving in spite of his age, and could still be an integral part of the One-Day Cup side, but the end of his illustrious first-class career appears to be near.

Jackson Bird, now 35, continues to lead from the front, but like Siddle, may be pushed out with promising younger bowlers coming through and the pressure for spots heating up. Ellis seems to just keep getting better and is evidently on the national selectors’ radar, while speedster Meredith is another extremely talented bowler who will be hoping for another crack in Australian colours.

Rainbird made only three Shield appearances last season, but his record-breaking match figures of 13/42 against Queensland in the final game of the season simply cannot be overlooked at the selection table.

Though his efforts typically go unnoticed, Gabe Bell has been an important part of Tasmania’s Shield team for several years now. Neil-Smith is another that shouldn’t be ruled out after showing plenty of promise last season.

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Once again there is a gaping hole in Tasmania’s squad in the lack of a frontline spinner. Tom Andrews has taken the majority of the load alongside Webster since moving across from South Australia, but is more of an all-rounder and doesn’t isn’t necessarily cut out for the workload, but the role may fall to him regardless.

Rookie-listed Jarrod Freeman has appeared several times for the Tigers but just isn’t ready to carry the burden as of yet. The lack of genuine options could leave the door open for the inexperienced yet gifted Radhakrishnan if he can prove his worth with the ball. Their strong pace attack should make up for the lack of quality spin options, but it is an issue nonetheless.

Predicted Sheffield Shield XI

T Ward
C Jewell
C Wakim
J Silk
B McDermott
J Doran (wk)
B Webster (c)
T Andrews
J Bird
R Meredith
G Bell

Predicted One-Day Cup XI

B McDermott (wk)
C Jewell
M Wright
J Silk
J Doran
B Webster (c)
N Radhakrishnan
T Andrews
P Siddle
R Meredith
B Stanlake

*Wade excluded due to selection in Australia’s T20 World Cup squad. Ellis has also been excluded due to his selection in Australia’s squad for the upcoming T20 series against India but should be available for the majority of the season, depending on national team selection.

How they’ll go

It will be interesting to see how the Tigers fare in the upcoming season, with a good mix of up-and-coming young talent and experienced heads. The squad has plenty of quality but is not without its flaws, and it would be a huge effort to meet, let alone exceed the feats of 2021-22. Will be competitive, but not enough to contend.

Shield prediction: Fifth

One-Day Cup prediction: Fourth

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