Hain’s homecoming: Heat’s new recruit a potential Aussie bolter

The Brisbane Heat have announced Sam Hain would join the squad as an overseas replacement during the 2022-23 Big Bash season.

A right-handed bat who’s been signed as an English international, Hain offers plenty of firepower at the top of the order.

But should things go well, Hain could find himself in the Australian squad.

Born in Hong Kong to English parents, Hain grew up on the Gold Coast and played for Queensland at junior levels, alongside the likes of Mitch Swepson, Jimmy Peirson and Marnus Labuschagne.

He was playing for the state Under-19s at the age of 16 and scored 114 not out against South Australia. From there, Hain made the Australian Under-19 squad for the 2012 ICC World Cup.

The youngest member of the squad, Hain (17 years 26 days) played two group stage games and scored 43 runs as the Aussies finished runners up to India.

And that was the last Australian cricket heard of Hain.

Birmingham-based Warwickshire County Cricket Club had their eye on him from the age of 14 as he qualified for England through his parents. In August 2012, Hain was playing for Australia Under-19s. By March 2013, he had signed for Warwickshire and was committed to England.

A year later, Hain became the youngest Warwickshire player to score a first-class century, scoring 134 off 284 balls vs Northamptonshire in just his fourth first-class match. Hain’s career has been on the up more in white-ball cricket compared to the first-class game, although he did score 1137 runs in the recently concluded 2022 Division One of the English County Championship.

Here are Hain’s stats in each format with the bat.

First-class: 172 innings, 6061 runs, 39.1 average, 14 100s, 34 50s, 44.8 strikerate.

List A: 57 innings, 2810 runs, 58.34 average, 10 100s, 14 50s, 86.38 strikerate.

T20: 94 innings, 2811 runs, 36.98 average, 1 100, 19 50s, 131.47 strikerate.

Hain has some great numbers and I was surprised he did not make the England Test squad to tour Pakistan. That said, Brendon McCullum does prefer more aggressive players.

Brendon McCullum. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

So how can Hain fit into the Australian team?

The pitches during half of the County season are impossible to bat on, so averaging 39 in first-class cricket in England is still respectable. Hain survives on an average of 78.65 deliveries per innings. While I am not advocating him to make the Test XI, Hain’s recent County season showed he would not be a bad shout to make the Australian Test squad for the Ashes.

He knows English conditions inside out and it would be a great way to get one back at the old enemy.

However, Test cricket is an unlikely means for Hain to come into the Australian side.

Australia are still a little bit unsure of who their number four should be in the ODI team. Why not Hain?

Hain boasts the second-highest average in List A cricket among players who have batted in at least 50 innings.

But Hain coming into the ODI set-up would be unlikely due to the lack of game left before the 2023 World Cup. Hain is only 27, and age is on his side should he enter the ODI setup after the World Cup.

Hain has had an outstanding T20 career at the top of the order in England. Australia are in a rebuilding process and need some fresh faces.

With the likes of Aaron Finch, David Warner and Steve Smith set to be moved on, Hain can take one of the three spots and score runs for fun.

Even when England have experimented, Hain has somehow not been included, despite boasting a more-than-respectable record in List A and T20 cricket.

Queensland and Australia lost a gem when the 17-year-old Hain committed to England. A decade on, Hain has not played for England and returns to Australia playing in his first overseas T20 league.

It may be a now-or-never situation for George Bailey and the selectors to start having discussions with Hain about coming back to where he began his cricket career.

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