Australian batsman is excited for his first foreign T20 competition
Australian batsman Jake Weatherald is keen to test himself against the best bowlers in HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) as he prepares for his first foreign T20 competition, expected to begin on June 5 in Abu Dhabi.
The Darwin-born cricketer was having a relaxed time with his friends around a fire on a cold night in Adelaide when he got the message from his manager that he has been picked by Quetta Gladiators in last week's HBL PSL replacement player draft.
The world quickly turned upside down for Jake as he hurried to get government exemption to fly out to Abu Dhabi, inorder to grab the chance to play in the competition.
“I am really excited. Obviously, I am disappointed that it is not in Pakistan. I think it will be really good to go there [Pakistan] and experience the culture. But I guess you need to take every opportunity you can, so I am really excited to play my first international type tournament. It will be a new experience outside the Big Bash,” Weatherald said.
“I have watched plenty of PSL matches. It looks awesome. I have had some really good reports about the quality, which is one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to go over there and face some of the best bowlers around the world and also the best bowlers coming out of Pakistan. People talk about spin but guys I have talked to, talk about the pace bowling being really good,” he added.
The left-hander is also looking forward to face Pakistan’s premium pacers, Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali, as he believes it will help him in his development as a batsman.
“I can’t say I want to face Shaheen too much. I have watched him quite a bit and he looks like a quality bowler. Hasan Ali looks like an awesome competitor as well. So to come up against them and do well would be awesome. As a young batsman, it would be really great to take them down but it would also be an opportunity to face them and see what I need to work on and need to get better at,” he said.
The 26-year-old is ready to face the challenges that playing in a foreign league in a different country entails. His first challenge would be to adjust to the scorching heat in Abu Dhabi.
“I am actually from Darwin, which is north of Australia, so it is humid and tropical over there. I lived there for 15 years, so I am used to heat. But I don’t know if I am used to 45 degree heat. So I guess that would be a bit of a challenge,” he said.
Weatherald is counting on his experience of playing alongside Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan for Adelaide Strikers in Big Bash League, to help him in Abu Dhabi, where pitch tends to favour spin.
“The wickets are little more challenging than Australia as ball tends to stay a little lower. So it will be a really good challenge for players from Australia. Playing with Rash [Rashid] and facing him a lot in the nets might help in Abu Dhabi. It is a good opportunity to learn about different conditions and also learn from the Pakistani players and the international players that will be playing in my team,” he said.
With UAE being the backup venue option for the T20 World Cup later this year, Weatherald believes PSL in Abu Dhabi can be his chance to further his claim for a spot in the Australian T20I squad for the mega event.
“If you can go to those conditions and do well, it stands you in really good stead. To be able to adapt to different conditions, to have a high strike-rate and to get your team off to good starts as an opener, holds a lot of weight for your selection,” he said.
“Some of the senior players in Australian team being quite older, there are opportunities that might come up. At the same time, we have got some really amazing opening batters at the moment with Aaron Finch and David Warner. It is not like spots are too easy to get at the moment in the top-order for Australia. But you never know as I can bat in the middle-order as well,” he concluded.