He has forged his own, very modern, route in the game and it has now taken him to the top. Quite how he fits into Australia’s XI for the World Cup remains to be seen, but over the last couple of years Singapore-born David has built a record as a finisher that few can match and which has already brought him success around the globe.
It wasn’t something he singularly focused on when he lost his rookie contract with Western Australia after the 2018-19 season, but he has followed the path that was opening in front of him.
“It probably hasn’t been a sole focus, it’s just naturally evolved into that way,” he said. “My first opportunity after being released by Western Australia was to go and play for Singapore, so went and did that then came back at the opportunity to go to the [Hobart] Hurricanes.
“From there the only thing I was going to do in professional cricket was play T20, so you focus on those skills and I have had more opportunities from there. It may look unorthodox but I’ve been out playing a lot of T20 cricket and really stoked to be getting to this point.”
David detailed the situation that unfolded earlier this year when he had been picked in Australia’s T20I squad to face Sri Lanka and found out hours before he was due to fly to the PSL. He believed the certainty of games with Multan Sultans would be better value for him and national selector George Bailey was on board.
“To be honest, at no point there was being picked for Australia really something I was thinking about,” he said. “I was flying to Pakistan later that day and got the call from George and at that point I didn’t know what to do. I thought, they’ve just won the World Cup and that was still a really strong team.
“I’ve always tried to make decisions that are best for my career. I thought that would be an opportunity for me to improve and if I could do that over a period of time then maybe I was going to be a player who could be an asset to the Australian squad. For George to be able to see that and be really supportive of that it was great.”
“If you look at franchise and international teams around the world the ability to finish an innings, whether that’s two, 12 or 20 balls, is highly sought after.”
George Bailey, Australia national selector
The next part of the conversation will likely come after the World Cup where there are more bilateral T20I series that will overlap with domestic tournaments. If David was to hold a CA contract – which he would be eligible for if he played 12 T20Is this season – then he would not have the same freedom, particularly during the September-April period.
How the game accommodates a player such as David without hindering their earning potential will likely be a topic of much debate in the next few years. Bailey was unsure whether he would become a trendsetter for how to build a career outside of traditional domestic set-up, but his body of work had made him impossible to look beyond.
“He’s been a star of the Big Bash for some time,” Bailey said. “We get to the end of the Big Bash and we like to look at who is leading the run chart and facing the most balls, but if you look at franchise and international teams around the world the ability to finish an innings, whether that’s two, 12 or 20 balls, is highly sought after.
“It’s a different journey, no doubt about that, and when you get the opportunity to hear about the journey it’s great. He has been part of our domestic systems…but it’s certainly unique. I think it’s really challenging for players to just be a franchise cricketer without having a base or support network. And it’s new, too. You might see it more and more but there are some challenges as well.”
For now, all roads lead to the World Cup for David. Via a couple more stops along the way.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo