Keath's AFL snub gives early pay-off - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Keath's AFL snub gives early pay-off

Sam Lienert 25/11/2010 08:28:47 PM Comments (0)

He could have been on the Gold Coast preparing for an AFL debut, but Victorian teenager Alex Keath is instead ready to complete a rapid rise to first-class cricket.

The allrounder was called into a 12-man Bushrangers squad on Thursday for what could be his state debut against Queensland in the Sheffield Shield match starting on Friday at the MCG.

While the 11 was yet to be confirmed, Keath looks a likely starter, given fellow allrounders Andrew McDonald and John Hastings, who played in the Bushrangers' most recent Shield game, are out injured.

It would give the tall 18-year-old an early pay-off for his decision to turn his back on a Gold Coast contract, after the AFL expansion club listed him last year as one of their priority concession picks, despite knowing he was leaning towards cricket.

In a rare win for cricket over the AFL, Keath this year signed a three-year contract with Cricket Victoria.

His debut will delight those disappointed that the AFL ranks are peppered with star players who took the opposite path, when their talent gave them a football-cricket choice, such as Jonathan Brown, Luke Hodge, Jimmy Bartel, Brett Deledio and Marc Murphy.

Keath had not been expected to break into the Shield side so early, but pressed his case with his first Premier Cricket century for Melbourne last weekend.

He backed that with an unbeaten 192 from 234 balls for the Victorian under-23 side against Western Australia in Perth on Wednesday.

But Bushrangers captain Cameron White warned against expecting too much, too soon from Keath.

"Cricket is a game in my opinion that it takes a long time to be good, especially as a batsman," White said.

"I can speak from my point of view that I'm 27, I probably only worked out how to bat two years ago.

"It takes a long time to be a good batter, especially at first-class level in Australia."

White and paceman Clint McKay return, after missing the Bushrangers' recent Shield loss to WA through Australia A duty.

Queensland regain paceman Ryan Harris, rested from their last Shield game with a knee injury, and will be led by allrounder James Hopes, who missed Wednesday's one-day loss with a thumb injury.

The match is set to be rain-affected, with a gloomy forecast for all four days.

Teams

Victoria: Cameron White (capt), Mark Cleary, Aaron Finch, Michael Hill, Jon Holland, David Hussey, Alex Keath, Clint McKay, Rob Quiney, Will Sheridan, Matthew Wade, Damien Wright. (12th man to be named).

Queensland: James Hopes (capt), Cameron Boyce, Ryan Broad, Ben Cutting, Ben Dunk, Luke Feldman, Ryan Harris, Chris Hartley, Chris Lynn, Craig Philipson, Chris Swan, Wade Townsend (12th man to be named).

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