Hurricane Short blasts his way into national T20 selection

Just who was the lefty hitting cannon shots into the crowd at the Gabba a few days ago, breaking the Big Bash League record?
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Meet the Hobart Hurricanes’ D’Arcy Short, a rebadged David Warner at the top of the order, via Perth, Darwin and Katherine.

Consecutive scores of 97, 96 and a BBL record 122 not out with eight sixes from just 69 balls for his team on the eve of a tri-series of Twenty20 internationals between , England and New Zealand next month mean that Short is in the mix for national selection in just his second season with Hobart.

At 27, he has taken six years to become an overnight sensation, potentially just the fourth male indigenous player to represent . The lucrative Indian Premier League also beckons.

“With international honours, I’d be ecstatic if I got picked for the T20 stuff, but I don’t want to get my hopes up too much,” he said from Hobart. “I don’t want to get shut down but I’m confident and if I get picked, then I’ll try to do my best.”

Short hits like a baseballer because he was one, until he was 13. Dare bowl on his hip? He’ll send you to another postcode. He also bowls left-arm over-the-wrist spin, having switched from left-arm orthodox three years ago, and changed clubs in Perth so he could soak in some advice from another left-armer, Brad Hogg, at the Willetton club.

Remarkably, he played a 50-over game for Western against NSW in Sydney as far back as 2011, having traversed the border from Darwin to make his name as a spinner and middle-order batsman on the offer of a few games with the WA second 11.

That was around the same time Justin Langer as the new WA coach told him he needed to lose weight. He was a hefty 95 kilograms and 178cm tall at the time, but initially he was reluctant to act on the coach’s advice, and he was ditched for five years, playing club cricket for Gosnells, the club he captained to its first premier cricket grand final three years ago.

“I was a bit stubborn about it for the first four or five years after the first game I played,” he said. “I was disappointed that I got dropped, I wanted to keep playing, but I didn’t want to put in the hard work, I was not backing my ability and not doing the extra work that I should do.”

The penny eventually dropped, though. Three years ago he was playing for the national indigenous team in Brisbane, and at a meeting with the coach Jeff Cook and his assistant at the time, former Victorian coach Greg Shipperd, the latter was adamant. Lose weight, get fit, he was told. Do the work.

Short now plays at 80 kilograms, 15 kilograms lighter than he was when Langer first railed at him. “I’m not hitting the ball any different, but I have a better mindset and I’m fitter to do things for longer,” he said. “It’s always a good thing to keep the coaches off your back!”

Short was born in Katherine, Northern Territory, and his parents Lachlan and Cindy Short moved to Darwin when he was around four. Cindy Short’s family trace to the Mitakooti indigenous people from the Cloncurry River in Queensland, and D’arcy is an ambassador for the Our Brothers Our Sisters foundation that promotes young indigenous people.

He has a striking tattoo on his left arm entitled “Shadrach”, but it’s not biblical. “Dad had it done too,” he explained. “It’s what my grandpa used to say instead of swearing, and we got it done to remember him by.”

He hit homers for Palmerston Reds in Darwin as a boy but chose cricket so that he could stay closer to home. “There were some shootings in the US at the time, and I felt like if I was going to make a name for myself, I’d rather stay here,” he said.

His heritage strikes a chord at Cricket , where CA’s indigenous engagement manager Paul Stewart has been working for four years to correct the historical abscess of the game’s disconnect from Aboriginal people. Stewart’s work is bearing fruit – the participation rate has doubled since 2014 – but he also knows that he needs figures who inspire, elite players in the green and gold like Jason Gillespie, the only indigenous man to play a Test.

“Fingers crossed,” said Stewart. “The numbers stack up. It’s out of my control, but people keep ringing me to tell me that he’s got a chance.”

Stewart cites a century that Short scored in a one-dayer for the national indigenous team against Papua New Guinea late last year in Brisbane as evidence of his new mindset. “He came in and apologised to his teammates for batting so slowly. And I said to him: ‘What are you on about? You got us over the line. Have some patience’.”

Cook remembers it too. “It was a turning point for him. He batted for time that day, rather than for boundaries,” said Cook. “And he ended up going at better than run-per-ball.”

For Short, like so many gifted players, mental application has been key. Gary Kersten, the Hurricanes’ coach, has drilled into him the importance of choosing the right ball to hit. Technically, Short focuses on staying as still as possible at the crease. “I’m backing myself, sticking to the things that I know work, and it’s paying off,” he said. “Not that thinking like this the whole time is always going to always work, but hopefully if I stick to my guns I can keep scoring runs.”

At Palmerston Cricket Club in Darwin, they are hugely excited about their graduate’s progress. Short played for Palmerston from under-17 level until he left for Perth, and dropped in to score a century in a one-off game for the club as recently as last season. “He’s not one who’s lost to us,” said Ross Leipold, the club president. “He’s a huge talent.”

At Gosnells Cricket Club, his original cricketing home in Perth, the same sense of excitement applies. President Dave Davies loves his style. “As clean a hitter as I’ve seen,” said Davies. “And I’ve seen a few. We’ve had Luke Pomersbach here, we’ve had others. He’s had to pull his head in. But I hope he gets picked [for ]. He should be.”

Meanwhile Stewart waits for the call, almost as nervous as Short himself, as the T20 international series approaches. “He’s a million-dollar player, that’s how I’d describe him,” said Stewart. “But I’m biased.”

INDIGENOUS PLAYERS WHO REPRESENTED AUSTRALIA

Faith Thomas

n cricket’s first indigenous international, she played a Test in 1958 as a fast bowler, and was a longtime South n representative. Her mother was a traditional Adnyamathanha woman.

Jason Gillespie

Fast bowler who was part of one of ‘s greatest teams, he was the first male indigenous player. Played 71 Tests, took 259 wickets at an average of 26.13, and now a successful coach at elite level. His father’s family traced to the Kamilaroi (or Gamilaraay) people.

Dan Christian

All-rounder who has played 19 one-day internationals and 16 T20 internationals for . His father is a Wiradjuri man from south-central New South Wales.

Ashleigh Gardner

Current n squad member, has played 12 one-day internationals and six T20 internationals in national colours as a batter and off-spinner, and her 114 for Sydney Sixers in the WBBL last year is the league record high score.

Scott Boland

Has played 14 ODIs and three T20 internationals for . His maternal grandfather was a member of the Gulidjan tribe from the Colac area.