During last year’s World Cup group stage match against the West Indies at Trent Bridge, the all-rounder wandered to the crease with the Australians in dire straits. Although Steve Smith was still at the crease, the top order had crumbled to 6/147.
Thankfully, a batting masterclass pushed the Aussies towards a defendable total, and to everyone’s surprise, Smith wasn’t the one providing the fireworks.
Although his previous highest ODI score was 34, Coulter-Nile smacked a career-high 92 runs from 60 deliveries, including eight boundaries and four sixes, to guide his side to 288. It remains the highest ever individual score by a No. 8 batsman in World Cup history.
Australia went on to win the match by 15 runs, with the paceman rightfully named Player of the Match.
Unfortunately for Coulter-Nile, he would only feature in three more fixtures during the tournament, dropped after a series of forgettable bowling performances.
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Fast forward 12 months, the Western Australian has missed out on a state contract for the upcoming summer of cricket, almost guaranteeing he would never represent his country again.
Western Australian head coach Adam Voges explained a focus on red-ball cricket was the primary reason for Coulter-Nile’s omission. The 32-year-old has not played a first-class match since 2017, primarily due to injury.
“Our focus, no doubt, will be to improve our Sheffield Shield results, we were disappointing at the back end of last season and will be looking to rectify that this year,” Voges said.
“We identified at the end of last season that our bowling depth in Shield cricket and our spin stocks needed a boost.”
Western Australia did not win a four-day match following the Big Bash break last season — after failing to muster a victory in four consecutive encounters, they slipped to fifth on the Sheffield Shield ladder. The state has not claimed a first-class in 21 years.
In contrast, Western Australia emphatically claimed the 2019/20 one-day Marsh Cup title, having only lost two fixtures in the pre-season tournament. Coulter-Nile was the highest wicket-taker in the competition, with 17 dismissals at 18.94.
Although Coulter-Nile was a standout performer in the one-day tournament, Western Australia already boasts a formidable pace attack. Along with international stars Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff, the state squad boasts the likes of Cameron Green, Marcus Stoinis and Joel Paris.
Western Australia’s bowling stocks have also been bolstered by the inclusion of Cameron Gannon, who represented Queensland in the 2019/20 season. The 31-year-old was the Sheffield Shield’s highest wicket-taker last season, with 38 dismissals at 20.92.
“It’s exciting to have Cam (Gannon) come across to the West. He had a terrific season in red-ball cricket being the leading wicket-taker in Sheffield Shield cricket and will bring experience and leadership to our young bowling group,” Voges said.
“A number of our young players gained playing experience last season and this will build our depth, which means competition for spots will be strong, particularly when we are at full strength.”
Meanwhile, former Australian paceman Andrew Tye also faced the axe on Tuesday. The white-ball specialist was named in Australia’s 14-player T20 squad to face Pakistan and Sri Lanka last October. Eight months later, Tye finds himself without a state contract.
The 33-year-old paceman has not played a first-class match since February 2018, but could potentially feature in next season’s one-day domestic tournament and Big Bash League. Tye has played 26 T20s and seven ODI matches for Australia since making his international debut in 2016.