In the north-west of Australia, D'Arcy Short is known as the ‘The Katherine Carver'. It is a nickname derived from the region he originally hails from and his ability to carve the bowlers around the paddock with willow in his hand. While in India Short is known as ‘Dot ball Darcy', an epithet associated with him after a horrible Indian Premier League (IPL) last year.
Short has been the pin-up boy in the Big Bash League (BBL) for the last two seasons, but in the IPL, he was touted as the ‘dud of the year'. His form on the bouncy Australian pitches is irresistible while on the sub-continent pitches, he is seen as a walking wicket.
Nearly eight months have passed since Short last visited India and after another emphatic Big Bash season, the dynamic left-hander will be hoping to prove to the world he can score runs on the slow tracks in India. The upcoming two-match T20I series is a great platform to re-launch his career in the sub-continent. He has form under his belt, he now has the experience of playing a season in the IPL, and he has been in India for a week practicing his art in the nets.
This time around Short is trying to keep it as simple as he can. "Just to try and hit the bad ball when it comes and try and score off every ball even if it's a good ball," he told reporters in Hyderabad after a training session.
The T20 series against India is a shot at redemption for Short. There will be a sense of expectation again after another scintillating season in the BBL.
Short was brought for US $775,000 by the Rajasthan Royals last season after a stunning BBL 07, in which he plundered 572 runs at 57.20 including three 90-plus scores in his 14 innings. He had bullied the opposition bowlers throughout the six-week period. At the time of the auction it seemed like a terrific pick, but by the end of the IPL, Short had only managed 115 runs at 16.42 from his seven innings.
How could a player of such promise have such a torrid time in India? One of the prime reasons was Short's inability to play spin bowling. In five of the seven matches, opposition teams opened with a spinner against him and led to him being choked. Statistics showed that nearly 40 percent of the balls Short faced were dot balls.
One of the major problems in Short's game is that he tries to play with the horizontal bat far too often. Commentating during the IPL, the former Australian captain Michael Clarke stated "one of the problems Short has is that the back-of-the-length ball from spinners skids on in India. The same ball bounces in Australia and you can play the cut shot to it, but in India with the low bounce, he needs to hit the ball with a vertical ball and down the ground. "
Even against the fast bowlers, Short was exposed in the IPL because he couldn't execute his favourite pull shot to the back-of-the-length deliveries. This time around, he needs to find a solution by either playing the back-foot drive or use his writs to flick the ball through the leg-side.
"They're a lot lower than what it is back home, especially (Jaipur's) wicket was quite hard I felt to get started on," Short had said after the IPL season.
India will target him with spin early on and the fast bowlers will starve him from his beloved pull shot. It is about finding a solution or adapting to the conditions. The fact that he has scored in excess of 500 runs in consecutive seasons in the BBL is a hallmark of his consistency and skills. But to take his game to another level, Short needs to prove he can handle international bowling in conditions that are foreign to him.
In his last seven T20Is, Short has made just 70 runs from 86 balls at an average of 10. The biggest concern is his extraordinarily slow strike rate of 81, which equates to a run rate of just 4.8 runs per over, a figure that is unacceptably slow in ODIs, let alone in T20 cricket.
Legendary spinner Shane Warne keeps hyping up Short's talent, but the truth is that he is one-trick pony. For Short to brush all the critics aside, he needs to remain positive and bludgeon the Indian bowlers in the two T20Is. If he succeeds, it may lead to a World Cup berth, if he fails his nickname as "The Katherine Carver' will forever be confined to the North Western tip of Australia.