Recall caps Dunk's 'whirlwind' fortnight | Big Bash League BBL
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Recall caps Dunk's 'whirlwind' fortnight

16 February 2017

Dunk led all comers in BBL|06 before being dumped from Tasmania's Shield side // Getty Images

New father returns his focus to cricket for Australia's T20 series against Sri Lanka

It's not often a national recall is trumped as the most important news of the day, but that was exactly the scenario for Australia T20 batsman Ben Dunk on a life-changing Thursday last week.

A dramatic 24 hours for the 29-year-old capped off what he describes as a "whirlwind" fortnight that began on January 30 when he was sensationally dumped from Tasmania's Sheffield Shield team, despite being the competition's leading run-scorer the previous season.

Dunk says his Shield axing hurt more than initially being overlooked for Australia's Twenty20 squad, which was announced two days later, despite being the leading run-scorer in the KFC Big Bash League and earning strong public support from assistant coach Ricky Ponting.

Dunk launches one into the top tier

Having returned to grade cricket in an effort to win back his Shield spot, Dunk's life was turned upside last Thursday morning (February 9) when he learned that his pregnant wife Annie would be induced the following morning, five weeks ahead of schedule.

Then later that afternoon came a phone call from national selector Trevor Hohns informing him that he had been included in Australia's T20 squad after all, called in for the injured Chris Lynn and in line for his first international cap in more than two years.

The following morning he became a father for the first time, a healthy baby boy named Billy putting the cricketing disappointments of the previous fortnight well and truly in perspective.

And on Tuesday morning, having "got lots of cuddles in" over the interceding four days, Dunk flew to Melbourne to link up with the national squad ahead of the KFC T20 INTL series opener against Sri Lanka on Friday night.

While mother and baby remain in hospital, Dunk said all is well on the home front and he's quickly re-focused for the resumption of his international career.

Baby Billy Dunk // Picture courtesy of Ben & Annie Dunk
Baby Billy Dunk // Picture courtesy of Ben & Annie Dunk

"It's been a whirlwind six days," Dunk told this week.

"I got lots of cuddles in over the weekend and to be honest, my wife Annie is doing a great job and the nurses down at Calvary Hospital in Hobart are doing a great job so there wasn't that much for me to do. She's probably happy that I'm out of her hair, to be honest.

"Hopefully he'll be ready to come out of hospital by the time I get back (next week)."

While Dunk enjoyed a breakthrough Shield season last summer, posting 837 runs and four centuries, he managed just one score of 50 or more from 10 first-class knocks to start the 2016-17 season.

It was a remarkable dip in form and came on the back of an equally poor Matador Cup in October, meaning he was hopelessly out of touch when he headed to Adelaide in mid-December to join his new BBL franchise.

Quick Single: Dunk trades shirts, retains friendships

But his "lightbulb" moment came in a pre-tournament practice match on the smaller Adelaide Oval 2, which propelled him to a tournament-high of 364 runs for the Strikers and - after a false start - back into the Australian side.

Dunk slams 85 in Strikers debut

"I thought 'you can't go any worse than what you have been for the past three months, just go out and watch the ball'," Dunk said of his approach heading into the match.

"I kept things really simple and all of a sudden the ball started to hit the middle of the bat. And from then on I didn't feel like I could get out and I could hit any ball I wanted wherever I wanted.

"So that was a turning point for me, a practice match ... that probably didn't mean a lot, but personally it turned my season around."

As a late addition to the T20 squad, Dunk is no certainty to play the series opener at the MCG on Friday, with fellow openers Aaron Finch and Michael Klinger expected to get the nod at the top of the order.

And while's he's desperate to add to the three T20 caps he earned in 2014, a major focus for the remainder of the season is to win back his spot in Tasmania's struggling Shield side.

"I'd come off such a great year last year and while things hadn't started the way I would have liked this season, after my Big Bash I felt things were turning a corner,” Dunk said of being dropped.

"We're struggling as a team and I feel like I can make a difference, so that's disappointing.

"But I've only got myself to blame because I haven't scored enough runs. Hopefully once this series is done I can get stuck in to red-ball cricket and get back into that team."

Filed Under

Adelaide Strikers BBL

Australia Men

Tasmanian Tigers Men

Ben Dunk

KFC T20 INTLs v Sri Lanka

Sheffield Shield 2016-17