Kings XI Punjab may have been rebranded as Punjab Kings, but the team’s core was as shaky as before. It’s no secret Preity Zinta wanted to splash the cash this season. Ironic considering the IPL is now suspended with Punjab at the bottom half of the table. But hey, better than a lot of other owners, right?
Among the team’s purchases was Riley Meredith. Meredith is an exciting bowling prospect from Tasmania. The right-handed fast bowler is a seamer who can consistently bowl 140 kph+ deliveries. This explosiveness is an important trait of good fast bowlers and something that can’t be learnt through coaching manuals.
Meredith was born on June 21, 1996. He was always billed as a prodigy from a young age. Injuries always left a question mark over his potential playing career, but they wouldn’t deter him. The Clarence speedster made his long-awaited domestic debut for Cricket Australia XI against Pakistan in 2017.
Meredith then became a regular player of the Tasmanian team in the Australian Domestic One-Day Cup in 2017. When the leader of the team’s bowling attack, Jackson Bird, was sidelined, Meredith stepped up and delivered impressive bowling performances.
These were noticed by the higher authorities and later that year, Meredith made his Sheffield Shield Debut for Tasmania against Victoria. He was taken under the wing of Adam Griffith, a former Tasmanian pacer, to further improve. The progress was exceptional, as his bowling ability matured over the years since his domestic debut.
2021 was the year of opportunity for Meredith. He was named in Australia’s Twenty20 International (T20I) squad for their series against New Zealand in January 2021.
A month later, he was bought by the Punjab Kings in the IPL Auction for the new season. Teams engaged in a bidding war for him, and Punjab paid 8 crores for his services. To cap his spectacular year off (after only three months), he made his T20I debut against New Zealand on March 3, 2021.
Meredith has been one of the bright spots for Punjab Kings’ average season so far. In the five matches he has played so far, he has taken four wickets. He has averaged an economy of 9.94 throughout the innings he has played. While there is scope for improvement, he has been very reliable for his outfit.
Meredith has a bright future ahead of him. With some refinement to his bowling and his tendency to give away a few extra runs per over, he can become a major player for Australia.
Whisper it quietly, but a further-improved Meredith with that freakish pace could draw comparisons to Brett Lee.