Australia A 243 (McDermott 70, O’Rourke 4-29) beat New Zealand A 135 (Seifert 44, Thornton 7-39) by 108 runs
The 26-year-old was a long way down the list of Australia A fast-bowling candidates when the initial squad was selected having played just 16 List A games for Victoria and South Australia. But an unprecedented spate of injuries across the Australia ODI squad and Australia A squads meant Thornton was flown to Brisbane on Monday, just hours after he got the call from the selectors, ahead of Wednesday’s second unofficial ODI as Liam Hatcher’s replacement after he was ruled out with foot soreness. Ben Dwarshuis, Wes Agar and Mark Steketee had already been ruled out from the initial squad.
“I’m kind of speechless at the moment,” Thornton said. “It was pretty cool. My dad was up here in the crowd and he was going absolutely ballistic.
“He said you might not get many chances to play for Australia A again so I’d better come up and watch. He was going absolutely nuts.”
New Zealand A were cruising at 0 for 46 in the seventh over when Thornton was introduced and he took three wickets in the over. Tim Seifert drilled a catch to cover to start the rot. Thornton then nipped one back through Dean Foxcroft’s gate before claiming Tom Bruce first ball with another that decked back and caught the inside edge through to keeper Josh Philippe.
Thornton didn’t even know he was on a hat-trick next over when he delivered a bouncer but New Zealand A’s run-rate completely stalled. Opener Nick Kelly, who had blazed 30 off his first 20 balls scored just 14 from his next 35 before slicing Thornton to backward point.
Two overs later he was on a hat-trick again as the visitors slumped to 6 for 74. Thornton bowled out his 10 overs straight, including a maiden, claiming his seventh wicket for the innings in the 24th over. New Zealand A’s tail folded with Matthew Kuhnemann and Ashton Turner picking up the last three between them.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Thornton said. “I thought if we bowled enough balls in the right area, there’d be enough there. I just tried to hit the top of the stumps and got pretty lucky to be honest. They’re pretty good players. I was just honestly stoked to get the call-up for the last two games up here. And it’s been a great couple of days with the boys.
“If you look at the guys in the room. It’s a pretty special team and for me to just be involved and a part of it … I said this when I was playing BBL and took that 5 for 3, two years ago I was just running around playing grade cricket. So any game that I get to play is an absolute bonus. And it’s a privilege to play with the guys in this room.”
Thornton was one of only four players in the Australia A XI who haven’t played international cricket. McDermott provided some international standard ball striking on his way to a blistering 70 earlier in the day. He thumped four fours and six sixes in his 59-ball stay. He was savage on anything back of a length, clubbing all of his sixes over deep midwicket and wide long-on, including one onto the roof of the Stuart Law stand and several out of the ground before he miscued one of Foxcroft.
But after losing the two four-day matches, Australia A claimed the 50-over series 2-0 ahead of the final game on Friday.
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo