End Of Our Journey..😕

I have been incredibly fortunate to coach a lot of young kids over the last 3 years. Some kids stay with me, some kids don’t. I find that as the kids get older, the stakes get higher. 1st X1 comes into play, representative squads are in the picture, the list goes on.

Over the past two years, I have had the absolute pleasure of working with two young cricketers, Noah East from Brisbane Boys College and Toby Matthews from Brisbane Grammar School. Both kids are similar in demeanour, Toby a better off spin bowler and Noah a better batter, but both worked hard at their games with 1st X1 cricket the end goal.

For me working with two young boys, my goal is always to enjoy first and foremost. The game is hard enough. If you aren’t enjoying it, then there is no point, it just becomes a daily battle and grind. To their credit, with everything going on in the world, both boys rocked up consistently and gave it their all, it was a pleasure to watch.

I will start with Toby…

Toby is an off spin all rounder who played for BGS this year, who ultimately won the 1st X1 premiership. A fantastic effort from a very good side. My journey with Toby has been one of reinforcement. From the very first day I saw him, I thought he was one of the most talented young off spin bowlers I have ever seen. His shape and flight was amazing and I knew that if he could get his head right, he would be fine.

In school cricket, the quick, defensive spinner is always the no 1 option. If you can bowl at the stumps and not go for many runs, then most likely you will do ok. Toby is a different spinner. Attacking, spins it but can sometimes go for runs as he likes to try and get the batsmen out. This doesn’t bode well for you at school level. But, it has seen his stocks rise at grade level and is now playing 2nd grade for Wests with higher honours (if he wants and works hard) just around the corner.

I see Toby as the best off spinner in QLD for his age. I know them all and have seen them all. I’m not a talent ID specialist or CATS from QLD cricket but his metrics, shape and consistency are the best I have seen. Toby isn’t someone who has been picked in squads or development teams and I am sure there are reasons for that. But I have always said to Toby, once you are out of school and the youth system, it’s all up to you, you are only judged on your performances. Not a coach who has a certain opinion about you or your potential. You are picked on your numbers first and foremost. If they stack up, then things could happen.

Every session that I would work with Toby, his shape was there. I kept telling him ”Far out I wish I had shape like you when I was your age”. I did wish that. His seam was perfect, he spun it hard and was consistent. He bowled an aggressive line and bowled with a good pace. His biggest issue was his willingness to be boring. To be consistent. He always wanted to do a different delivery or he would get through his quota of deliveries as fast as he could so he could then move onto his batting session. I do understand that it can be boring being a spinner. But it’s what separates the best from the rest. Master that stock ball and the world is your oyster…

Toby was lucky enough to play in a team that won the 1st X1 premiership. An incredibly hard thing to do. He contributed when needed and was able to create some amazing memories with family and friends. Hopefully he is proud of what he achieved and is able to look back on with great pride.

Now onto Noah….

I first met Noah about 2 months after meeting Toby. If I could ever replicate a young kid to coach, Noah would be it. Not because of skill or talent, but because of the way he reacted to the game. His demeanour, nature and thought process was that of a 60 year old man. He was always incredibly calm and I am not sure I ever saw him get frustrated the whole time I coached him. He honestly just loved batting and bowling.

Out of the two boys, Toby’s skill set was a little higher then Noah’s. When Noah and I first met, he was a middle order batter that could just bowl the ball down the wicket. His coaches wanted him to work on his off spin to add another part to his game. So when we did our first session together, Noah actually didn’t know how to bowl off spin. He bowled the ball but couldn’t understand the concept of spinning the ball. Was certainly going to be a big challenge for him.

So from that day on, Noah and I worked on the basics. Each session we did we had an end goal in place, the end goal being getting him just good enough to contribute with the ball and play a role in his 1st X1 side (if he made it). All this while working hard on his batting. Noah eventually got it. He started to bowl consistently and with nice shape. He even developed his own quicker ball and he felt that he could bowl when needed and play a role in the team…. The funny thing was, in his year, he didn’t even bowl a ball for the team, he ended up becoming an opening batter and one of their most consistent batters.

When my journey began with Noah, the pre conceived idea was he was going to contribute as a middle order batter that would bowl handy overs. Noah was going to be one of those kids who’s spot was going to be talked about because of the role he played. If he didn’t contribute, would they look elsewhere?? Noah ended up playing a pretty big role. We turned him into an opening batter, he made the GPS X1 and he also scored his first ever hundred. An incredible feat for a kid who was on the cusp of not being picked. One thing that stood out with Noah was his willingness to work hard. We ended up doing top ups at his house on a Friday night at 7:30pm for 45mns. I would throw balls to him similar to what he would face the next day and then we would discuss his plans and how he could best combat the opposition. It wasn’t rocket science, but for him the sessions helped him become clearer on his role and how he could best execute that the next day.

As luck would have it, the boys played against each other in their final game of year 12. BGS needed to win to secure the premiership. For me the perfect day for the boys would be, BGS win, Toby bowl well and take wickets while Noah scored runs. I was actually hoping they would have competed against each other because it would have been a great battle, but it didn’t eventuate. Noah played well for a solid score and Toby only bowled a few overs at the end. But for me, it was a really nice moment to see two boys who both worked so hard on their games, enjoy their last game of year 12 in front of family and friends.

Sadly though, my journey with these two boys is now over. What they do after year 12, well the world is their oyster. Whatever they both do, they will be incredible at. I am going to miss my sessions with them as they helped me live a little bit of my childhood through their senior year. I want to thank Sonessa and Scott (Toby’s parents) and Bec and Jono (Noah’s parents) for trusting in me and allowing me to help guide their boys in an important year. I loved it and can’t thank you guys enough.

To Toby and Noah… I want to say that I am incredibly grateful I got to work with you for so long. It was great to watch your journey and live it with you. Good luck on your next chapter boys.. I hope it’s everything you want and more!

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