Australia made a bold move in their T20 World Cup defence on Thursday, selecting power hitter Tim David in their squad.
It’s rare to see a team able to evolve even after winning a global tournament less than 12 months ago, though the opportunity to bolster the side with David’s power, rarely seen in an Australian team, was too good to pass up.
David’s selection was a long time coming, especially for those who keep an eye on the emerging game. Not featuring in Singapore’s squads for T20 World Cup Qualifier B and Challenge League action earlier in the year, David’s switch to the country he has called home for several years was world cricket’s best kept secret.
It would be fair to say David’s starring role in Singapore’s national team put him on the map, striking at 158.52 and averaging 46.50 with the bat in a side now struggling in his absence, though it’s the devastating hitting in domestic T20 cricket that helped him kick the door down of Australian selection.
Making over 2000 runs on the domestic circuit at a strike rate of 164, and an average of over 30, David’s assets were too good to pass up for a team longing for a man of his power. Outside of late-over cameos from Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis, a specialist so deep in proceedings had long been missing.
David could well line up next to the pair come their tournament opener against New Zealand, though neither boast the resume of David, who has performed everywhere he has gone.
Taking his game up a notch with a strong Big Bash League season in the 2020/21 Australian summer, David hit the ground running for Lahore Qalanders in the PSL squad, with scores of 23* (15) and 64* (36) to make a strong first impression. Finishing his six-match stint with 180 runs at a strike rate of 167, David hit over half of his runs in boundaries, also hitting more sixes than fours.
David popped up with a 95-ball 152 in Dutch domestic cricket, before travelling to the UK to star in both the T20 Blast - and the Hundred - making an impact with the bat and in the field, running out Liam Livingstone to help the Southern Brave claim the inaugural title.
Calm under pressure in the Caribbean Premier League, and making the move to Multan at the PSL, the respect for David was unanimous at the 2022 IPL auction.
No less than half a dozen teams fought for David’s signature, with the Mumbai Indians forking out 8.25 Crore (US$1.2 million) to secure his services. David repaid the faith, joining Andre Russell and Brendon McCullum as the only players to make 100 runs at a strike rate of over 200 in an IPL season.
Of course, it is the boundary-hitting that makes him such a valuable asset. Across T20 cricket and the Hundred in the UK, David hits a boundary every 4.6 deliveries. By comparison, Andre Russell goes at a rate of 4.0. Astonishingly, David also has the highest strike rate of any player in T20 cricket to bat at No.5 in the order or below in the last two years.
In a way, David feels the shortest format wasn't tailored to a skillset he developed through club cricket, but rather it was the only place he had playing opportunities, having lost a state contract with Western Australia in 2019.
Speaking to the press on Thursday after his selection, David used the setback to make necessary adjustments.
"It probably hasn't been a sole focus, it's just naturally evolved into that way.
"My first opportunity after being released by Western Australia was to go and play for Singapore, so went and did that then came back at the opportunity to go to the [Hobart] Hurricanes.
"From there the only thing I was going to do in professional cricket was play T20, so you focus on those skills and I have had more opportunities from there. It may look unorthodox but I've been out playing a lot of T20 cricket and really stoked to be getting to this point."
It’s this power that raises the eyebrows of Australian legend and ICC Hall of Famer Ricky Ponting, who was at the other end of a David blitz at the IPL as coach of the Delhi Capitals.
Speaking on The ICC Review, Ponting remembers the rampant, match-winning 34 from just 11 balls, and believes David’s presence is ominous for any bowling attack come the T20 World Cup.
“If you ended up with, let's say, (Glenn) Maxwell, Stoinis, Wade and David in that middle order there is a really formidable late-order striking team that no bowling team would want to play against.
“I think he's the sort of player that could actually win the Australian team a World Cup in that finishing sort of role.”
“He's probably in career-best form right now, and when you've got guys that are at the peak of their powers, I think you just have to play them.”
David will make his first appearance in Australian colours in late September when the team travel to India for three T20Is, and at home in bilateral series against the West Indies and England ahead of their T20 World Cup opener on October 22.
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