Tasmania were forced to begin their Marsh Sheffield Shield game in Melbourne on Friday with just 10 of their 11 players at the ground after Tim Paine’s late withdrawal left them scrambling for a last-minute replacement.
Alex Doolan woke up on Friday morning in Hobart but was soon on a plane over Bass Strait, making a late dash to the MCG to take Paine’s place in the side.
The wicketkeeper had woken up ill and was forced to miss the match under Cricket Australia’s COVID-19 protocols.
While Jake Doran will take the gloves in the absence of their regular gloveman and Jackson Bird has taken over captaincy duties, Tasmania understandably wanted a batter to replace Paine in the XI.
And given Tasmania’s only reserve player available in Melbourne was fast bowler Gabe Bell, Doolan was booked on a last-minute flight.
The 35-year-old touched down in Melbourne just after 11am (play had begun at 10.30am), by which time Tasmania had already lost two wickets after Victoria captain Peter Handscomb elected to bowl first on an overcast morning.
Listed to bat at No.6 in the order, Doolan had to disembark the plane, collect his kit, and make the 35-minute journey from Tullamarine Airport to the MCG.
Thankfully for the Tigers, Caleb Jewell and Charlie Wakim put on a 51-run partnership to ease any fears that Doolan would have to bat even further down the order.
Tasmania reached 3-76 at lunch, by which time Doolan had arrived and was having a hit at the MCG nets.
Alex Doolan, a late replacement for the ill Tim Paine, was on a plane over the Bass Strait when play began this morning in Tassie’s #SheffieldShield game at the MCG.He’s now arrived and is listed next to bat! pic.twitter.com/t2InQrBVxc— Louis Cameron (@LouisDBCameron) March 5, 2021
The eleventh-hour call-up presents an opportunity for Doolan to permanently reclaim his spot in the Tasmanian side after being dropped earlier in the season having made 29, 10 and 6 in their first two games in the Adelaide bubble in October.
The 35-year-old captained a Tasmanian second XI that lost to ACT/NSW Country at Hobart’s Lindisfarne Oval this week, making 43 and 61 in a 10-wicket defeat.
The opener is the leading batter in Tasmanian Premier Cricket, with 783 runs at 87 featuring three centuries including an unbeaten 210 but has been kept out of the Tasmanian side by the likes of Wakim, Mac Wright and Jewell.
Scott Boland was the pick of the Victorian bowlers before the first break, removing openers Jordan Silk (1) and then Wakim (30) to have figures of 2-20 from 11 overs.
James Pattinson (1-15 from six) had the other wicket of Wright, who edged to Marcus Harris at third slip.