The Adelaide Strikers’ surprise Big Bash League (BBL) weapon Tim Ludeman is the best wicketkeeper in Australia, his coach Darren Berry says.
Berry yesterday played up the performances of the Nirranda cricket export, who has helped lift the Strikers into second spot on the BBL ladder.
Ludeman, 25, has backed impressive glovework with a scoring spree as an opening batsman and is the Strikers’ leading run-scorer entering tonight’s home clash with Melbourne Stars.
He has made 135 runs in the tournament, including a match-winning 71 from 43 balls against Sydney Sixers last Sunday.
Berry, a wicketkeeping stalwart in his playing days, said he rated Ludeman the country’s best gloveman.
“I have always said he is one of the best keepers in the country, if not the best gloves,” he said.
“His hands are as good as anyone in the country, without doubt.
“His batting had let him down in the past and this year — in Shield, one-day cricket — he has been good.
“I think he’s the best keeper in Australia … I say that unashamedly.
“And his batting has now stepped up a level.”
Berry’s high praise comes three months after he called on Ludeman to make the most of what loomed as his last opportunity with the South Australian squad.
He told The Standard he had questioned Ludeman’s commitment to state-level cricket after a poor 2011-12, which ended with him playing grade cricket in Adelaide.
But Ludeman proved a point during the pre-season by working hard on his batting — which had been a weakness — and showing he wanted to play first-class cricket.
“Ludeman has the chance again. It’s about him saying ‘I’m not giving this back’,” Berry said in September.
“I said wicket-keepers rarely get a second chance. But he’s got one and third chances don’t come around.”
He hasn’t needed a third chance.
“It has been a great story. He worked extremely hard in the off-season — he was desperate to get his spot back,” Berry said.
“He has not only got it back - he’s really stamped it. He has been a real exciting player for us.”
Ludeman, 25, said he credited an extensive pre-season with South Australian batting coach Jeff Vaughan for his improved batting.
“I worked hard so it’s good that it is paying off,” he said.
“Hopefully I can continue that on. I got dropped last year and there was no doubt that my batting wasn’t up to it so I worked hard at it and the rewards are starting to come.”
After his man-of-the-match performance against the Sixers, Ludeman is now focused on tonight’s match against the Melbourne Stars.
The Strikers sit in second spot ahead of their home fixture against the third-placed Stars. Both outfits have six points, two points shy of unbeaten competition leaders Melbourne Renegades, but the Strikers have a better net run rate than the Renegades.