Callum Ferguson's second ton puts him in frame for national call-up
Callum Ferguson's fairy-tale debut season for Worcestershire is only getting better, as a record-breaking 192 against Leicestershire last Tuesday to gun down a mammoth 376 was succeeded by a quickfire 136 ball 159 against Northamptonshire. This was Ferguson's second hundred in three games for his county to which he was called up for as a replacement of fellow South Australian skipper, Travis Head. He also became the first individual to record two scores of 150 or more in the Royal London One-Day Cup ever since the tournament's inception in 2014.
Ferguson walked into bat in the third ball of the innings after Moeen Ali bagged a duck, remarkably the same happened when he score the 192 the other night. He engineered a chanceless stand of 239 with Rikki Clarke. He stayed unbeaten till the end helping Worcestershire put on a massive total of 348 on the board. Northants, in reply, never found the required momentum despite their top six scoring in excess of 30. Perhaps the reason was that none of the six went beyond 63, eventually, they fell 38 runs short. The win also pushed the Worcs to the top of the North Group table edging past Warwickshire.
Ferguson's dream run can fetch him an unlikely and unexpected ODI call-up. With the World Cup approaching in a year, and Australia's two best batsmen, David Warner and Steve Smith out of action till then, Justin Langer will be tempted to rope in someone like Ferguson who has plenty of domestic cricket for experience and is doing well in the gloomy swinging environs of the UK.
Ferguson won't be new to international cricket. He played 30 ODIs for Australia in the 2-year window from 2009 to early 2011. 663 runs at an average of 41.43 and five fifties should have ensured a longer rope, but he never had a defined role in a side that was undergoing a transition, both in terms of members and leaders, and was eventually dropped for other players who brought in specified skill sets to the side as required by the management.
Handed the sacred Baggy Green in the disastrous Hobart Test of 2016, he was run out for 1 in his debut innings before being dismissed for 2 in the second dig, putting his red ball ambitions to a halt as well after he was dropped for the next Test in favour of Nic Maddinson. It is quite ironical as Ferguson is now being touted for an international comeback and Maddinson, who found the rigors of international cricket too demanding, endured a torrid run of scores that led his ouster from the NSW list of contracted players.
He is not entirely unaware of what might be in store for him following his record-breaking knocks. Still eager to make a comeback he told cricket.com.au after the match, "I played 30 ODIs and had a good time of it in international cricket,"
"I haven't played as much in recent years as I would have liked, but it's certainly something I'm keen to get back to and I'm hoping to play over here, getting some experience in the UK and making some runs as well might help my case. I'm only 33 and we've seen in recent years that Australia haven't shied away from picking players out of domestic competitions of a similar age like Chris (Rogers), Adam (Voges) and Shaun Marsh," said Ferguson deeming that his age will not be held against his case for an ODI recall if he manages to score enough runs to warrant selection.
Ferguson is not wrong, earlier this year, a 36-year-old Cameron White received a call-up from his exile after years of racking up runs in the Australian one-day competition. His services will be most welcome to an inexperienced Australian side in their quest to retain the most important piece of silverware in white ball cricket, making it five titles out of the last six attempts.