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Alex Carey, the current Australian One-day and T20 vice-captain & wicket-keeper recently joined us for an interview as apart of the ACI's free 4-week Junior Wellbeing & Activity Program.  Below is an overview of the interview along with some questions & answers that some of our lucky members of the program got to ask.

Alex's had an interesting journey thus far, playing both footy and cricket growing up and right through his schooling days until year 12. Once things got serious, he elected to go down an AFL pathway into the national draft. He had to choose one, he definitely loved cricket but couldn't pass up the opportunity to play AFL. This meant no cricket for 2 full seasons, no practice, no skills. After his decision to return to cricket, this meant finding his way back into the South Australian system by making his way through grade cricket at Glenelg. He credits his brother and dad a lot - always being there for him in terms of coaching, participation & moral support. That's where we'll pick up the interview;

‘To be elite at whatever you choose to do in life, you’ve got to work really hard and be passionate. The best normally do the most.’

ACI: Who were your biggest role models growing up?

AC: My father and older brother are certainly my two biggest supporters. Lots of young cricketers have their parents around to be their role models in life and it’s such massive support. In a professional sense, I loved watching Adam Gilchrist play - obviously being a left-hand wicket keeping batter like myself. The way he handled himself on the field, he always had a big smile on his face. Now to have a relationship with him and call him a mate is pretty special. Not only playing-wise but morally to have him as a role model was fantastic to aspire towards. At the end of the day though, family is key!

ACI: Do you think AFL is a good crossover sport for cricket?

AC: Certainly, football and cricket are two awesome sports. Footy keeps you fit, you're outdoors and you have a heap of mates on that team. Basically any sport that involves a ball, hand-eye, and lots of activity are great options to do while you’re not playing cricket.

ACI: Do you have a wicket keeping routine?

AC: Yes and you definitely should have one in between balls, especially if you don’t need to run up to the stumps or be involved in the contest. You should try and switch off as much as you can but my routine is;

  1. Look around the field and the positions.
  2. Mark my spot and scratch where I need to stand.
  3. Crouch into the hands and knees…
  4. Into stance and switch back on.

ACI: How much time do you dedicate to your batting vs your keeping when training?

AC: Personally, keeping is my number one skill so I do some really solid sessions around that. Some days it’s one or the other - I have to be able to trust my preparation for that. The off-season can be a lot about recovery and making sure you’re mentally prepared to go around again. In this time there are probably more opportunities to do longer sessions, get more time into the legs and do some higher volume with my batting prep.

He continues...

‘You need to take ownership of your own game and make sure you have that feeling of achievement when you finish the training session. It can be a juggling act chasing the perfect preparation leading into a game, you need to be fresh but you also need to keep those skills relevant.’

ACI: During the World Cup semi-final, how did you respond to being hit by Jofra Archer?

AC: We were under a fair bit of pressure at the time already, not the ideal situation you want to be in when needing to post a big score. Jofra is an elite bowler and he’s so skilled, I don't know how he does it. I copped that bouncer on the chin and got a few stitches in but was lucky to be batting with Steve Smith at the other end. It was probably more uncomfortable if anything plus I had to hold up the game. As it started going numb and a bit sore, for me personally it was about us posting a score which we could defend. I was so focused on us getting the job done and playing a good innings, I would worry about the repercussions of injury later.

ACI: Who’s the best bowler that you’ve faced?

AC: Rashid Khan is the best I’ve kept to, he’s quite special. He’s also bowled to me and is really tough to pick.

ACI: Your favourite format?

AC: They’re all exciting for different reasons! T20 is certainly a rush, one-dayers are a real test of your skills over time and 4-day cricket is all about patience. I love them all for different reasons!

ACI: Favourite venue to play at?

AC: Adelaide Oval - it’s pretty cool. Otherwise, Lords. Lords is Lords, the history that’s there with the old stands. We won two world cup games there so it’s quite a special place to play! It’s a strange slope, but you’re overawed by the history there.

ACI: Who do you follow in the AFL?

AC: I follow the Adelaide Crows, as well as Dylan Shiel at Essendon and have a soft spot for the giants.

ACI: Do you prefer batting or keeping more?

Depends if I make runs (laughs) however, keeping gives you another chance to be a part of the game!

ACI: What have you been doing cricket wise during isolation? Are you training and still catching balls?

AC: Yep certainly doing lots of running, I really enjoy that. I’ve got some weights out in the backyard to get something through the legs. I’ve got my golf balls for catching as well. I’m also having a hit tomorrow going indoors to keep my skills up. I can’t sit still so I really enjoy trying to stay fit and strong as well as hitting balls - it’s what I love doing. Right now I’m really appreciative of the time I can have with my family.

ACI: Thanks so much for coming on Alex! We really appreciate it and we’ll be supporting you in the Aussie colours when you’re back! 

AC: My absolute pleasure and it’s so great to see these questions coming through and it’s great to have that support!

For the full interview head to our Facebook page by clicking here

IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFO ABOUT THE 4-WEEK JUNIOR CRICKET WELLBEING & ACTIVITY PROGRAM - CLICK HERE

As apart of the ACI’s free 4-week Junior Wellbeing & Activity Program, recently we were lucky enough to have current Australian international fast bowler, Jason Behrendorff join us for a Q & A session. 

Hundreds of young cricketers were glued to their computers, phones & tablets interacting and listening to the insights of his journey through cricket and his tips on how to become a consistent young fast bowler.

After our discussion, we thought it would be handy to jot down the 5 key takeaways that Jason spoke about for young developing fast bowlers.

1. Your Stock Ball is Key

You need to be aware of what your best ball is, after which you'll need to be able to execute it time after time!

Your ability to be consistent and take wickets or to build pressure for long periods of time comes down to this.

Jason's advice;

“100% the best thing for me is nailing a stock ball. For me, it’s an inswinger to the right-hander so that’s the ball I work on 90% of the time because that’s my banker. That’s the one I know 9/10 times, I’ll execute and whatever I need to do if I’m in a pressure situation that’s what I’ll go back to”.

2. Find Your Niche in the Swing vs Pace Balance

This tip is often highly debated about and can make or break players confidence. At the end of the day, is there a trade-off?

Should players be sacrificing swing to bowl quicker? Or can players play at a good level while still pulling back your pace and have the ball seam around?

Jason's advice;

“A few years ago people were sort of saying unless you bowl 140kph+ you won’t play international cricket. If you look around the international game, yes there are a few that do bowl 145kph or 150kph but there's only a handful who bowl super fast. Everyone else is doing something with the ball".

He continues.....

"That’s the thing for me that stands out - really try and hone YOUR craft, whether it’s seam bowling, swing bowling or an absolute out and out fast bowler. Again I go back to executing your skills, if you can execute your skills, being able to hit those lengths when you need to, all those things make a difference. If you are trying to bowl as fast as you possibly can and have no control over where the balls going that’s not really going to be good to anyone. You need to find your niche and once you have found it you need to do everything you can to own it”.

3. Variations - Don't Get Left Behind!

While it's important to make sure you can hit your stock ball whenever you need to, the game has changed a lot in the last decade especially with all the different formats now, players know it’s crucial to have variations in your arsenal that you can use.

Jason's advice;

“As a bowler nowadays, with all the inventive shots that batters play, the way that there is no fear in the game with that respect - it's important to have variations! Execution is everything, make sure you practice your yorkers, bouncers and slower balls. Anything you can do to be a little bit inventive. Try your own thing to get an advantage over the batters”.

4. Mindset & Body Language is Key

Cricket is as much, if not more mental than it is technical. If you can keep your thoughts, feelings and emotions in check, it will go a long way to you becoming more consistent as a bowler.

How players deal with having a bad day or spell is crucial and Jason believes it's integral as a bowler to keep these in check.

Jason's advice;

“It’s something that I definitely struggled with a lot with early in my cricket career. I would generally slump over if I had a bad spell or over, whatever it might have been. You would have seen me down at fine leg and I probably had my head down a bit not paying much attention and just sort of thinking way too much about what I was trying to do as opposed to staying in the contest and doing what I could to get better and get back”.

He continues...

“The biggest thing for me is not letting one ball, one spell or one over affect my day. The way I tend to do that is to try to stay up in the contest. Whether that be in the field, keeping the chat up to your mates, that’s one of the best things about being in the field is you’ve always got someone to chat to when you are fielding or bowling”.

5. Bowl the Ball, Don't Place it!

When players start to try to swing the ball, they tend to get into a habit of trying to place the ball and not “hit the deck”. Jason speaks about his issues with this in the past and how he overcame it to be able to continuously swing the ball.

Jason's advice;

“I was looking to bowl the ball not just to place it there. That’s something I fell into the trap of early days, I was trying to bowl it down there and swing it as opposed to actually bowling it and ripping down the back of the ball and letting the ball do the work”.

So there you have it, from the mouth of a current Australian International!  It’s critical to ensure that there are a host of areas that can contribute to your success as a bowler.

When you are planning your next training session, make sure that you factor some of these aspects into it rather than just bowling to a batter aimlessly.

For the full interview head to our Facebook page by clicking here

IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFO ABOUT THE 4-WEEK JUNIOR CRICKET WELLBEING & ACTIVITY PROGRAM - CLICK HERE

Matt Short, the Adelaide Strikers and Victorian Bushrangers young gun was our first live Q&A session special guest to kick off the ACI’s free 4-week Junior Wellbeing & Activity Program.

More than 400 online attendees joined Matt as he discusses early memories of starting out in cricket, his advice on batting and bowling, along with some answers to questions from our attendees.

Below are some edited highlights that were taken from that interview;

ACI: Really appreciate you coming on & joining us Matt, what have you been up to recently?

MS: Keeping pretty busy actually, doing an online University course - Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition), a few other things around the house like painting - got someone else in to do it though, not me (laughs).

 ACI: Where are you from, where’d it all kick-off for you?

MS: I’m a country boy from Ballarat, I started pretty late around 12/13 years of age - I remember my older brother was playing a game and they were short, he had a spare pair of whites, so I filled in.  Didn’t bat or bowl, but took a catch and that was one of my first memories of all the boys getting around me. From there I filled in every week for them and enjoyed playing with my brother.  I played the next 4 years for East Ballarat, got chosen in the rep sides and my performances there led to playing for Victoria in the U/15’s,17’s & 19’s!

 ACI: What’s it like being a younger player trying to fit into that elite environment?

MS: It was really tough being a country boy and not having played too much senior cricket. To come into a locker room with Dave Hussey, Peter Siddle, Chris Rogers & Cam White - I initially felt like I didn’t belong.  So, the first year was massive and took me a while to fit in but you’re always going to be put into uncomfortable situations, the more you’re in them, the better off you’ll be.

 Group Question: Nathan asked who was/is your biggest inspiration?

MS: Family is a big one for me, starting out, playing with my older brother. My dad also, out the back yard being adjudicator for us three boys, I also have a younger brother. And mum, the commitment and sacrifices she made especially being in the country and travelling a lot.

 GQ: A few have asked who’s the fastest bowler you’ve faced, how do you go about it and do you experience fear at all?

MS: Not necessarily, I try to back myself to get into good positions and watch the ball as best as I can!  Quickest bowlers I’ve faced would be Mitchell Starc and Jofra Archer.  Watching them on TV, their strengths, I’m able to prepare somewhat for when I face them. 

 GQ: Hunter asks, do you score from ball 1 in a T20, and what’s your general tactics when batting?

MS: Good question, I’m definitely trying to score first ball, whether it be a boundary or single.  Intensity goes up but it’s all about sticking to your cues.  If the ball is there to hit - hit it!  A lot of risk vs reward but stick to your plans and try not to premeditate, don’t second guess yourself and have the clear mindset to score.

 GQ: You better known as a batter but you do bowl as well, Sam asks what do you focus on when you come into bowl?

MS: I have a couple of cues when I’m at the top of my mark.  The main one being power: when I bowl my bad balls, it’s when I get lazy at the crease - not putting enough effort on the ball or not using my legs enough. So, I’m thinking power, up and over, that fast arm and good follow through!

 GQ: A lot of power-hitting questions, what’s some tips for gaining more power when batting?

MS:  I’m pretty lucky having some big leavers, being tall with long arms!  I’ve worked closely with Brad Hodge at the Vics and his message is always to have a nice stable base, keep your head in line with the ball, hold your shape & stay strong in the shot.

 GQ: An Adelaide Strikers fan asks - Rashid Khan, how do you pick his wrong-un, who is your favourite teammate and who’s the hardest worker?

MS: Rash - he’s pretty interesting, the thing with him is, his leg spinner doesn’t turn that much. So, I feel like he’s not going to beat me on the outside of my bat.  With his wrong-un, I’m only picking him 50% of the time (laughs)!  I try and come down the wicket to him a lot because he’s not going to spin it past my outside edge.  It’ not easy to face him though! A favourite teammate at the Strikers of mine is Liam O’Connor, another leggie from WA. He’s a ripper and one of those blokes you love to have around the change rooms.  Both being from interstate, we stay at the same hotel, we’re with each other every day and night for a couple of months. It’s been great to get to know him.  The hardest worker at the Strikers would have to be Alex Carey I think, not only in the nets but also in the gym - doing extra running etc. must be that footy upbringing. He’d be the first in the nets and the last to leave, always doing that bit extra. That must be his way for making him ready for what’s to come in his career.

 ACI: Your favourite part of being a professional cricketer?

MS: I love that I’m a professional in something that I’ve loved doing from when I was young and get a lot out of seeing my family react to when I’m doing well and also when I’m doing poorly.  They’ve always got my back and to know that I make them proud is something that I love doing!

 ACI: Finally, what tips would you give our youngsters out there to get the most out of this time in isolation?

MS: I know it’s the cricket offseason, but it’s always good to keep the skills up however you can, whether it be getting the tennis racquet out with a tennis ball, taking catches or hitting golf balls against the wall. If you’ve got a backyard big enough, get out there, but basically try and nail the basics so you’re ready to go for pre-season and keep listening to the ACI with all their videos and advice! 

 For the full interview head to our Facebook page by clicking here

IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFO ABOUT THE 4-WEEK JUNIOR CRICKET WELLBEING & ACTIVITY PROGRAM - CLICK HERE