Josh Inglis and the life of the reserve player

Josh Inglis knows that his chance to feature in the ODI World Cup might come with a last-minute tap on the shoulder. It’s a situation he’s getting used to as a regular back-up player in Australian squads.

The ongoing tour of South Africa has seen him offered more opportunity than has often been the case: the three T20Is and the first two ODIs before being rotated out for the third. There should be more chances to come over the next couple of weeks with two games left in South Africa and then three in India – and it’s likely he will get at least one outing with the wicketkeeping gloves – but come the World Cup, if everyone is fit for Australia, he probably doesn’t start.

On the previous tour of India in March, he was called into the side in Mumbai when Alex Carey fell ill, while his versatility with the bat will also see him provide back-up for almost any position in the order.

“I feel like it’s been the story of my international career,” he said. “A lot of the games I’ve been involved in have sort of been at the last minute. Think that comes with being a spare batter or replacement player in the squad that when those situations arise you are the next one in.

“Preparation-wise, you’ve just got to stay mentally ready the whole time and prepare as if you are going to play because these things just seem to happen more and more now with concussions, Covid etc, so just got to stay ready then hope for the best when you get a crack.”

Since making his international debut in early 2022, Inglis has appeared in 12 T20Is and five ODIs – the two games in Bloemfontein were his first consecutive outings in that format.

He was part of the 2021 T20 World Cup squad in the UAE and also initially selected for the 2022 edition in Australia before being ruled out with a hand injury caused when playing golf.

Inglis has racked up plenty of hours on tour, including for part of this year’s Ashes either side of flying home for the birth of his child, and particularly during Covid when larger squads and bubbles were required, it meant lengthy periods not playing much cricket.

“I mean, I’d rather be playing,” he said. “I’m very lucky to be doing what I’m doing, being involved in a lot of tours and a lot of cricket is really exciting…but obviously at times I’ve gone long spells without playing much and it can be quite tough when you are just coming in for the odd game with no real rhythm and match practice. Obviously, it’s not ideal but I’m doing everything I can, I’m working my socks off and will try and cement a spot in all three forms.”

At 28, he has time on his side to become a more regular part of Australia’s line-ups and there are just a few questions starting to be raised about Carey’s form with the bat ahead of the World Cup although it’s unlikely initial plans will change at this stage.

But if Inglis is required, he has given a glimpse of his batting prowess in South Africa, firstly with 42 off 22 balls in the third T20I in Durban and then a maiden international fifty in Bloemfontein where he overcame a sluggish start of 13 off 19 balls to explode through the gears.

“I was pretty satisfied at the end,” he said. “I haven’t played a hell of a lot of cricket lately and seeing the boys get off to an absolute flyer and seeing the names coming be, I thought I probably had to get on with it. But at that stage the wicket had slowed up and the ball was a bit older. I just had to be a little bit patient, probably didn’t get off to the start I wanted but got away a bit towards the end of my innings.”


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