By Peter Blucher
Oskar Baker has received an encouraging endorsement from highly-respected AFL analyst David King after his AFL debut for Melbourne over the weekend.
Speaking on SEN on Saturday morning after Melbourne lost by 16 points to West Coast in Perth, King said: “Melbourne found one last night .. Oskar Baker is going to be a beauty … he looked as composed as anyone out there.
“Sure, he was run down a few times but that’s going to happen. He’ll be alright.”
Baker, a former Aspley speedster in his second season at Melbourne, had 10 possessions (five contested) one tackle, one clearance, one mark inside 50 and kicked a behind from a long-range set shot.
He played 73% game time, had two rebound 50s and two inside 50s, one one-percenter and one running bounce – all in front of a loud Perth crowd of 51,162.
He will go into the record books as the second Queenslander to debut in the daunting arena after North Melbourne’s Bailey Scott in Round 1 this year.
Baker’s eye-catching debut came as Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko was tagged the best tackler in the competition by Lions coach Chris Fagan after a key role in the Lions’ one-point win over Adelaide at the Gabba.
Zorko had 12 tackles to shoot to the top of the AFL tackle count this year with 70, ahead of Adelaide co-captain Rory Sloane (66), Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps (63) and Gold Coast’s Darcy MacPherson (63).
Vice-captain Harris Andrews, a pillar of strength in defence against the Crows, also found himself at the top of an AFL stats list – despite missing two games through injury.
Andrews, the man with the most dominant defensive fist in the competition has 79 one-percenters to share top spot in that category with Fremantle’s Joel Hamling, who has played all nine games.
Bad news for Queensland to emerge from Round 9 was the ankle injury to West Coast ruckman Tom Hickey. He faces two-three weeks on the sideline in a continuation of a frustrating start to his time in Perth.