Nic Maddinson was grateful to play just one game for Victoria, let alone the three and half seasons he now has under his belt at his adopted home state.
Cut from NSW at the end of the 2017-18 season, Maddinson made the move south – with no guarantees of a contract – to try and revive his career that had taken him to the pinnacle as a 25-year-old when he earned his three Test caps.
But it was a shift that paid dividends as he quickly established himself in the Victorian side, peeling off seven centuries in 31 first-class matches, which returned him to the fringes of the national squad as COVID cover during last summer’s Ashes and as part of the AustraliaA tour to Sri Lanka in June.
Therefore, it’s perhaps with a hint of disappointment that today he captains Victoria for the first time, taking the reins from Peter Handscomb who is away with the Prime Minister’s XI where he made 55 against the West Indies on Wednesday.
Had it not been for a lean run of scores since the end of last season, which included that A tour of Sri Lanka and an English county stint with Durham where he only managed two half centuries in 19 innings, Maddinson would likely have been in the PM’s XI side himself.
The form of teammates Marcus Harris and Handscomb, and the PM’s XI being a full-strength Australia A team, has gutted Victoria’s top-order as they took to the field at the MCG today for the fifth round of the Marsh Sheffield Shield.
Maddinson, who also captained NSW in six Shield matches in 2015-16, managed just one before edging behind off Jackson Bird as the Vics were skittled for 121 after Tasmanian counterpart Jordan Silk sent the hosts in on a green-tinged deck under gray skies in Melbourne.
Since reaching triple figures for the seventh time for Victoria in February, which is more than the six he hit in eight years at NSW, the left-hander has failed to pass 50 in 11 Shield innings with his top score the 30 coming in the opening round of this season against South Australia.
“I think that’s cricket and you’ve got to ride the flows of it sometimes,” Maddinson told cricket.com.au ahead of this week’s clash with Tasmania.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing, in terms of runs the way I’ve started this year and with the English summer as well, it feels like a long time since I’ve made a hundred.
“I feel like I’ve been batting really well the last couple of games and I don’t think it’s through lack of training or anything like that.
“Playing county cricket for the first time, the challenges were a little bit different with the ball and the pitch and the style of play.
“But it’s no real excuse for not scoring the runs I did. I always felt like I was batting really well and got myself a lot of starts and into some good positions and just found ways to get out, which can be the way in England sometimes, and it’s been a little bit like (that) so far this season.”
Despite his lean returns, the 30-year-old says he’s been feeling good and just needs to spend some time at the crease, warming up for this week’s clash by smacking a 16-ball 36 for St Kilda against a Will Sutherland-led Prahran over the weekend.
“I’m working really hard on my game and I feel like I’ve got a good method that’s going to work,” Maddinson said.
“It’s just the game sometimes … a tricky wicket last week (against Queensland) and we’ve (come up against) some pretty good attacks so far.
“I haven’t changed too much, I feel like my game is in a good place, it’s about putting some balls under the belt and scoring some runs.
“I worked a little bit in the winter about making sure my weight is still coming forward. I don’t move a lot at the crease so (it’s) making sure I’m moving into the ball and putting myself in good positions.
“It’s just about getting in, I’ve rarely faced over 50 to 100 balls for a long time so for me that’s going to be a focus this week, just spending some time in the middle.”
Maddinson says his formula to get back to the pinnacle is simple, too.
“If you look at things as a blink and especially as you get older, it’s just weight of runs,” he says.
“I don’t think the style I play is going to change too much and obviously selectors are aware of where I fit into their plans.
“It’s just about scoring runs and when the opportunity comes that you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time and make sure you’re scoring runs when it matters.
“When I first moved down, I was just extremely grateful to be given the chance by Victoria, it was something I didn’t really think would happen again and I was OK if it didn’t happen again.
“But being able to be part of the group for the last four or five years, it’s been a something I’ve learned a lot from and I think I’ve changed a little bit as well over that time.
“To move here and first get a game but to now be able to lead us out on to the MCG is a pretty special time and something I’ll be proud of after this week and in the future.”