The most in-form batter in Australian domestic cricket right now, who made his international T20I and ODI debut recently, and was one negative Travis Head scan result away from being drafted into Australia’s World Cup squad, admits that just 18 months ago he was nearing a cricketing abyss.
He had zero Sheffield Shield centuries and was averaging just 30.38 in 55 innings. He had zero List A hundreds in 46 innings and zero T20 hundreds and just five fifties in 50 innings.
But in 2023, he has scored six centuries across all formats: one in the BBL, two in the Marsh Cup and three in Sheffield Shield cricket. He was the BBL player of the tournament, played in the IPL, the Hundred and for Australia in white-ball cricket, all since moving closer to Victoria’s training facility at the Junction Oval in Melbourne.
“I suppose probably 12-18 months ago, I was a little bit nowhere in terms of not putting as much effort into training,” Short said. “So I moved in closer to training and made a few sacrifices over the last few months. Really putting some emphasis on training and doing the extra stuff.”
There was a bit more to it than that. But it is incredible that Short, now just shy of turning 28, after being a talented Australia Under-19, playing a youth World Cup, being selected in Cricket Australia development teams and consistently for Victoria, had not had that epiphany sooner.
As a tall, powerful ball striker, with wonderful hand-eye coordination, a gifted catcher and very skillful offspin bowler, Short is almost the perfect package for the modern game. It is easy to see why he had so many games invested in him as a younger player without the pressure of having to perform for his place.
“Probably a lot of volume [training],” Short said. “Really trying to nail down on my game plan. But it’s more spending the extra time around recovery and stuff in the gym. Just really to get my body okay to play as much as I have over the last six to 12 months.
“It’s [also] probably more the mental side of things. Both here at Victoria and the Strikers in Adelaide I’ve been given a lot of freedom from Bucky Rogers and Dizzy Gillespie. Just being able to bat my natural way. It’s pretty aggressive and I seem to be getting away with a bit now.”
Extra responsibility has also helped. He has gone from an inconsistent rank-and-file member of both Victoria and Strikers to a senior player who is relied upon in both sides. At Strikers, his runscoring at the top of the order became vital in the absence of Alex Carey and Travis Head while he also had to bowl powerplay overs upfront.
For Victoria last summer, Marcus Harris and Peter Handscomb’s absence due to Test duties and Nic Maddinson’s injury meant added responsibility. Short thrived with that on his shoulders. He then experienced the new challenge of being an overseas player at the top of the order for Punjab Kings in the IPL and Northern Superchargers in the Hundred.
“I think being an international player, albeit they were replacement player gigs, but to be that kind of player that teams rely on for scores or wickets or whatever it is, to have that kind of extra pressure on you, I think that’s been good to bring back to Victoria,” Short said. “I think the last few years we’ve relied heavily on one or two players, whether it be Marcus Harris or Pete Handscomb, Scotty Boland. It’s nice to be able to think of myself as someone that the team relies on to score runs and help set up some victories.”
His bowling too has developed with the help of Victoria spin coach Craig Howard, who has been a vital part of Todd Murphy’s development into becoming a Test offspinner. Short suddenly looms as a triple-threat in all three forms.
With Australia’s white-ball teams about to hit a transition phase, he is well aware his purple patch could not have come at a better time. But looking beyond that there are subcontinental Test tours that loom for Australia in Sri Lanka in early 2025 and India in early 2027 where Short’s skillset would make him an asset.
“You never know,” Short said. “Based off my last six months I think anything can happen. If you keep putting performances on the board at the right time, this sort of time in Australian cricket, there might be a few changes coming up. I think it’s just all about timing. I’m not really thinking about it too much, whether it’s white-ball or red-ball, but if I can keep performing and trying to win games for Victoria then who knows what’ll happen.”
“He seems in good spirits,” Short said. “I’m looking forward to playing with him.”
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo