Ben Cutting says starring on the big stage of an Indian Premier League final has given him renewed confidence as he pushes to win back a spot in Australia’s limited-overs sides.
Cutting’s man-of-the-match performance in the IPL’s climax delivered his Sunrisers Hyderabad a thrilling victory over the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The big-hitting Brisbane Heat allrounder clubbed four sixes in a 15-ball 39 and he also snared two wickets, including Chris Gayle for 76, as Cutting stopped the rampant West Indian in his tracks, ultimately sealing an eight-run victory for Hyderabad.
"It's the belief that I got out of it," Cutting told cricket.com.au about what he gained from the IPL final. "Twenty20 is a tough game for a bowler.
"Nobody goes into stadiums to watch you take wickets, they go there to watch you get hit for six."
With a top-order featuring Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson, RCB had a batting line-up to alarm even the bravest of bowlers.
Hyderabad were nonetheless counting on Cutting to produce four (relatively) inexpensive overs in addition to his earlier heroics with the bat where he helped the Sunrisers to 208.
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And Kohli, not to mention the others, provided a reasonable obstacle for Cutting.
"It's mental," the Queenslander said of bowling to Kohli with a plethora of screaming Indian fans cheering on their national team’s captain. "You've really got to keep your emotions in check, not just playing against him but playing against them in a final with small boundaries and a fast wicket.
"And it's not just him, you've got AB de Villiers at the other end followed by Shane Watson and there's Chris Gayle as well. You're chasing your tail for 20 overs pretty much.
"I've always been happy with how I've been able to bat at the end (of an innings) for teams like the Heat - being able to slog a few sixes and finish off the innings.
"But (the IPL final) was a really good confidence boost with the ball. Bowling in such good batting conditions on that big stage, it was a relief for me, I guess."
With his IPL cameo, which yielded 65 runs at a strike-rate of 191.17 and five wickets at the excellent economy rate of 7.17 in his four matches, behind him, Cutting’s attention turns to the Australian domestic season.
The 29-year-old is likely to form a key part of the Queensland Bulls’ Matador BBQs one-day cup side in October, before the Sheffield Shield and KFC Big Bash League seasons get underway.
Cutting will again don the teal of the Brisbane Heat for BBL|06 with the club set to welcome back Brendon McCullum.
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The former New Zealand skipper played three matches for the Heat alongside Cutting in BBL|01 and he believes the Australian will play a major role for Brisbane this summer.
"He had a little bit of a lull but I think what we’ve seen in the last little while is that he’s starting to come back," McCullum told cricket.com.au earlier this year of Cutting.
"He’ll be a huge player for us; batting in that middle-order, bowling, using his height and his ability to change the pace but also every now and then, on that Gabba wicket, being able to ‘sniff’ the batter as well.
"There’s not a whole lot of those commodities: guys who can whack it out of the park, field brilliantly and bowl touching 140 kph.
"He could be a huge asset for us."
Cutting was close to receiving a Baggy Green at his home ground in 2011 when he was named 12th man for Australia’s Test against New Zealand at the Gabba.
He’s since excelled more in the shorter formats, and his ability to clear the fence almost from ball one has perhaps now become his dominant skill, over his pounding, back-of-a-length fast-bowling, which saw him picked for eight international limited-overs matches, the last of which came in 2014.
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While Cutting hopes to improve on his modest Sheffield Shield numbers from last season (eight wickets at 40.62 and 64 runs at 10.66 in four games), he admits his focus is well-and-truly on the upcoming Matador Cup and the BBL.
"I didn't play a hell of a lot of Shield cricket last year so it's probably trying to get back into that Shield team and play a little bit more," he said.
"But ultimately it's very much a white-ball focus for myself, Twenty20s and one-dayers.
"Obviously kick off the season with the Matador and then the Big Bash.
"And I still want to get back into that Australian team, as everybody does."