THE BUDDING CANBERRA BATSMAN LOOKING TO GO BIG

The ACT/NSW Country U19’s celebrate a wicket during their win over NSW Metro at the 2016-17 Under 19 National Champions.

The ACT/NSW Country U19’s celebrate a wicket during their win over NSW Metro at the 2016-17 Under 19 National Champions. Image: Brody Grogan

With the Cricket ACT 2016-2017 Season Gala celebrating the achievements of many of Canberra's cricketers this summer, Cricket ACT caught up with the Luke Bush Rising Star Award winner, up-and-coming batsman Blake Macdonald.

Whether it be for the iCollege ACT Comets, ACT/NSW Country, or his beloved Western District-UC, rising opening batsman Blake Macdonald sees opportunities posed by selection as deliveries “over-pitched and wide” – they are opportunities he doesn’t want to have go begging.

Asked what his favourite shot in the book is, the 19-year-old did not take long to answer.

“Nothing better than hitting a straight drive for four,” Macdonald said.

However, his best shot belongs elsewhere in the wagon wheel.

“Probably over the last few years it’s been the cover drive, or the square drive – over-pitched and wide.”

With the same level of intent that the right-hander looks to punish a bowler who has waned in his line and length, Macdonald embraced the opportunity to debut for the Comets in the 2015/16 summer. Walking to the middle with the ACT boys reeling at 3/6 to face a South Australia attack with its tail up, the debutant showed maturity beyond his years in crafting 55 runs off 86 balls to help salvage a draw for the Comets.

Perhaps more impressively, Macdonald resembled a barnacle in compiling 86 off 154 later in the season against a Queensland attack stamped with right-arm quick Ben Cutting and leg-spinner Cameron Boyce, both of whom have played limited-overs cricket for Australia.

Although marred by a broken finger, a dive in the outfield resulting in torn cartilage in his wrist, and a mild concussion sustained from a full-throttle pull shot sent cannoning into his helmet while fielding at short-leg, the 2016/17 season has delivered the former Radford College student some runs. Leaping out of the archives is a bruising 85 off 47 deliveries the Wests-UC batsman belted in a Konica Minolta Regional T20 Cup fixture early in the summer. Streaked with five fours and three sixes, Macdonald’s innings not only propelled his side to a five-wicket win over Ginninderra, but stands as the competition’s third-highest individual innings.

It’s these sorts of innings Macdonald has an eye on producing on a regular basis.

“For me at the moment it’s about putting together really good grade cricket performances and taking my opportunities in (the Toyota) Futures League,” Macdonald said.

“That’s going to open up doors for me.”

Macdonald, who works as a learning support assistant in a Canberra primary school, is single-minded about his ultimate dream.

“I think for any cricketer that’s going along a pathway, the goal is to play for Australia one day,” Macdonald said.

“Coming through ACT there’s a clear pathway forward. There’s a lot of goals you want to tick off along the way.

Macdonald has dreamt of donning the baggy green since he was of a very young age.

“I’m a pretty competitive person, so probably as soon as I started playing cricket I went, ‘I want to play for Australia’,” he said.

“I guess that’s the thought when you’re younger.”

The promising batsman also offered an insight into his rise through the ranks.

“I guess as you start progressing through the programs and you see that pathway in front of you and the potential to play professional cricket, you start to take it a bit more seriously and it starts to become a realistic opportunity if you perform well.”

Macdonald received one of the most encouraging signs yet, amid his “(progress) through the programs”, when he was selected in a side that Cricket Australia’s National Talent Manager, Greg Chappell, said was picked in favour of potential first-class cricketers. Macdonald, who captained ACT/NSW in the 2016/17 U19 National Championships, was named in the team of the tournament by a selection panel headlined by the Test batting great.

The skipper’s finest innings of the Championships was a rocketing 155 not out, off 152 balls, in a knock bestrewn with seven fours and seven maximums. Opening the batting with fellow Wests-UC youngster Matthew Gilkes, the ACT product tore the Victoria Country attack to shreds to set up an 18-run win.

“It’s really pleasing to bat through the innings as an opener,” Macdonald said of the knock.

“That’s something that doesn’t happen a lot of the time, so that was a real positive for me – just to be able to bat for 50 overs and get through some tough periods and then enjoy some good periods later. It’s always nice to make a hundred and then go on to make a big hundred.”

Macdonald, who has been involved with Comets programs since the age of 12-years-old, praised the impact the Comets have had on his development.

“I’ve learnt so much through the underage teams and particularly playing a few Futures League games now,” Macdonald said.

“You learn a lot very quickly in those four-day games. They’re unlike anything I’d ever played before. You learn a lot about your game and about the way that semi-professional and professional cricketers go about things.”

He was as equally glowing about Wests-UC, the club his dad, Darryle, not only played 15 seasons for but is a Life Member at.

“This is my third year in the first-grade team,” Macdonald said.

“Wests is an awesome club. They do so much for the juniors and there’s a lot of experienced guys around to help you out, in the team and coaching and around the club. It’s a really great environment to be a part of and I consider myself very lucky to be a part of the club.”

In plying his trade at Wests-UC, this young kid with big dreams sports a baggy cap that’s maroon in colour. In years to come, he could find himself in a baggy cap of a certain shade of green.

Blake Macdonald – remember the name.

 

Article by Zach Gates. 

Cricket ACT
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March 24th 2017
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