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Behrendorff keeps emerging for WA

By Chris Pike
23 February 2014 08:33AM EST

LEFT-arm Western Australia quick Jason Behrendorff is emerging as one of the best young bowlers in Australia and he credits the faith put him by Justin Langer and Adam Voges for much of that.

Behrendorff has been entrusted as a mainstay of the WA line-up in both one-day and Sheffield Shield cricket, as well as with the Big Bash League with the Perth Scorchers, and the 23-year-old is delivering in spades as the Warriors close in on a crucial Shield victory against New South Wales.

Coming off a BBL campaign where he helped the Scorchers to the title taking 11 wickets at under 19 with an economy rate of 6.37, Behrendorff missed last week's Shield victory for WA against Tasmania but is now leading the charge back at the WACA Ground at NSW heading into the final day.

Behrendorff picked up a career-best 5-65 in the first innings of the match, then made his highest first-class score of 29 with the bat and now already has figures of 3-27 in the second innings heading into the final day with NSW 4-102 and still trailing WA by 16 runs on the first innings.

Behrendorff has now taken 24 wickets this Shield season at an average of under 24 and while he knows he is still a work in progress, the faith shown in him by coach Langer and captain Voges has helped enormously with his confidence.

"There are still bits that I have been working on a fair bit and I think my consistency in the first innings so far has been good, and that's what I am really keen to continue working on," Behrendorff said.

"Their support has given me a lot of confidence and it's always nice to know that the guys at the top are backing you in 100 per cent.

"When you then get a few results that go your way and you get a few wickets so everyone else is backing you up, then it's always a nice feeling to do your job in the team and hopefully cement my spot."

Coming off helping the Scorchers win the Big Bash where Behrendorff really put his name up in lights for future international honours, he is happy that he has now shown he can come back and perform at Shield level as well.

"I was very happy with my BBL campaign and it was good obviously for the Scorchers to get to win after making the final three times in-a-row," he said.

"That was fantastic and now getting back into this form is a bit tougher on the body, but it's the pinnacle of cricket and I'm really happy to be doing well."

While Behrendorff's 29 with the bat against NSW only meant that he passed 100 Shield runs in his 12th match for WA, batting is something that he is taking very seriously and he wants to continue to develop into a more than handy tail-end batsman over his career.

"That was my highest first-class score so that was nice and to be honest I have been working really hard in my batting," Behrendorff said.

"It's something I want to be better at and I want to be able to make some really handy contributions down the order with the bat, and hopefully the work I'm doing will allow me to do that on a regular basis."

With WA needing just six NSW wickets on the opening day of the current Shield match in Perth coming off a four-wicket win over Tasmania, the Warriors will move into second position on the table with away clashes to Queensland and NSW to come.

Coming into the third day against the Blues, WA still needed 81 more runs for first innings points but 155 to Voges and 88 to Sam Whiteman ensured the points for the Warriors and then Behrendorff helped them get a 118-run lead.

With WA still in front with NSW already four wickets down, a victory is within sight but Behrendorff knows they can't take anything for granted heading into the final day.

"All the credit really has to go to Vogey and Sammy Whiteman today for the way they batted. The game was in an interesting position coming into the day, but they batted us into a dominant position to get a lead and then a few other guys chipped in at the finish to get some handy runs as well," he said.

"To now have them four wickets down already, it puts us in a really strong position but we can't just come back out tomorrow expecting it to happen. We have to come out focused and ready to get the job done because we know NSW will fight hard. But we are in a really good position and hopefully we can capitalise."

While Behrendorff has impressed with 24 Shield wickets this season with Michael Hogan also taking 29, Mitch Marsh 24 and Nathan Coulter-Nile 14, he has enjoyed the much-improved efforts of the state's batsmen.

Marcus North (828 runs at 92) is leading the competition while Voges (681 at 76) is now third and Whiteman (591 at 59) seventh in the Shield run-scoring list.

"It's fantastic knowing that you can come off after bowling a team out and put your feet up for a little while is like gold," Behrendorff said.

"Certainly in the past that hasn’t happened and we've been back out there in the same day at times, which has been disappointing, but the boys are batting so well at the top.

"Northy, Voges and Sammy has now scored six or eight 50s on the trot so we are happy to sit there with our feet up as a bowling group, and watch them do so well."

With WA now a good chance of qualifying for the Shield final to have a chance at a first title since 1999, Behrendorff and his teammates aren’t getting too ahead of themselves but are buoyed by the fact that they have already brought back silverware to the WACA this summer.

"It's more in the back of our minds I think and we just need to continue taking each day as it comes. As cliché as it sounds, it's just what we needed to do and our mantra has been for a while to relax and focus, and that's something we have been doing quite well recently. If we can continue to do that, then I'm sure we will go a long way towards making that final," Behrendorff said.

"I definitely think it helps our confidence. I think it was the first bit of silverware for roughly 10 years so it was a big achievement for not just the Scorchers, but the WACA itself. The core group of the Scorchers is also the core group of the Warriors so that's really good, and there's a lot of confidence in the group at the moment. I think it's only onwards and upwards from here."

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