Home » Sangha, Harvey seek fresh start as SA bolster batting stocks | cricket.com.au

Sangha, Harvey seek fresh start as SA bolster batting stocks | cricket.com.au

South Australia recruit two former Australia under-19 captains in a bid to shore up their misfiring batting line-up

South Australia has moved to bolster a fragile top-order batting line-up by signing interstate talents Jason Sangha (NSW) and Mackenzie Harvey (Victoria) for the coming summer.

Sangha, a former Australia under-19 World Cup captain in 2018 who was touted a future international representative, lost his place in the NSW line-up in the second half of last season and the Blues announced last week he was seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Harvey also skippered Australia at the 2020 U19 World Cup but, despite making 13 List-A appearances for Victoria and playing 40 games for Melbourne Renegades in the BBL over the past five summers, he has yet to break through to first-class cricket.

With SA undergoing a major restructure, having parted ways with men’s team coach Jason Gillespie and high-performance boss Tim Nielsen in recent months, the young pair are eyeing similar opportunities to those grasped by another ex-Victoria recruit, Jake Fraser-McGurk.

Sangha’s first-class record – 1785 runs at 27.46 with four centuries from 39 matches – might be modest, but his highest score of 142 came against SA at Karen Rolton Oval in a 2022 match in which he also captained the Blues.

Sangha last played for NSW in November 2023 // Getty

His most recent appearances for NSW came in November last year, and he played just two matches for Sydney Thunder in BBL|13 leading to speculation he may also sign with Adelaide Strikers.

His domestic one-day output is even less imposing (173 runs from 15 matches at 12.35 and a best return of 29) but SA already boasts some strong white-ball performers with Harvey more likely to push for a place in the 50-over format.

The nephew of former Australia limited-overs allrounder and 2003 World Cup squad member Ian Harvey, the 23-year-old last represented Victoria in a Marsh One-Day Cup match against Tasmania in October 2022.

Harvey lost his Victoria contract at the end of that summer, but was a strong performer for title winners Carlton in Premier Cricket last season.

Harvey is regarded as one of the best fielders in the country and is regularly called on as a substitute for Australia // Getty

Interim SA coach and former national under-19s mentor Ryan Harris believes the two young batters (Sangha is 24) carry the potential to become key contributors to a line-up that has struggled for batting consistency.

“After the 2023-24 season, we identified the need to improve our batting stocks and we have done just that with the recruitment of Jason and Mackenzie,” Harris said today.

“Only in their early 20s, both players bring a lot of potential and upside to the list and we are excited to see what they can do.

“We look forward to welcoming Jason and Mackenzie to South Australia later this year.”

With the exception of newly appointed skipper Nathan McSweeney (762 runs at 40.94), no SA specialist batter averaged more than 20 during the most recent Marsh Sheffield Shield campaign in which they finished second-last ahead of only Queensland.

It’s the seventh successive season in which SA has finished in the bottom half of the Shield ladder (including five consecutive wooden spoons) and batting has remained a constant issue throughout that lean period.

Apart from Test regulars Travis Head and Alex Carey – who will again miss most of the 2024-25 campaign due to Australia duties – the only batters to average 45 or more in a season since SA reached the Shield final in 2016-17 have been seamer Nathan McAndrew, last summer’s skipper Jake Lehmann and retired duo Callum Ferguson and Tom Cooper.

Sangha delivers in first knock as NSW skipper

Former ACT/NSW opener Henry Hunt looked likely to push for higher honours after being named joint Shield player of the season (alongside Victoria’s Travis Dean) in 2021-22, but struggled to recapture that form last season before he missed the final rounds with a facial injury suffered in a fielding mishap.

And while SA have built a formidable fast-bowling arsenal through recruits McAndrew and Harry Conway (NSW), Brendan Doggett (Queensland), and Wes Agar, Jordan Buckingham and Henry Thornton (Victoria), McSweeney stands out as the only similar success added to the batting ranks.

Last year’s signing of Fraser-McGurk was seen as speculative given the hugely talented batter had failed to find a place in Victoria’s senior outfits and battled to score regular runs at Premier Cricket level.

However, he repaid the faith shown by SA’s brains trust by smashing the fastest List-A century (off 29 balls) against Tasmania at the start of last summer and then a maiden first-class century against his former team weeks later.

SA have confirmed former WA batter Jake Carder, along with fellow opener Kelvin Smith, pace bowler David Grant and uncapped Isaac Higgins won’t receive contracts for next year with the final men’s list for 2024-25 to be announced next week.

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