I was born in Katherine but I don’t remember it all that well.
I think dad was working at Toy World, mum was at a bank and we had a dog and a cat called Yuppie and Meeka. And that’s about all I’ve got.
I was about four when we made the move a few hundred kilometres north to Darwin to be closer to family. That’s where my memory kicks in. That was where I grew up.
I played cricket in the backyard all my life but not competitively until I was about nine. Not long after that, my family ran an indoor cricket centre – the Palmerston Indoor Sports Centre it was called – and I was into everything. Cricket, volleyball, soccer and whatever else was going.
I worked there with mum and dad doing odd jobs and whatever needed to be done around the place. And I would play two or three games of indoor cricket a night, either for teams I was playing with or filling in when a team showed up one short.
I didn’t change my game too much playing indoor. I wasn’t two worried about the little ones or twos. I was just always trying to smack the ball as hard as I could and hit the back net.
On top of those couple of games a night, I was also training with my club teams in Darwin and I would hit the bowling machines on the weekends.
It might sound like a lot but I didn’t care. I was a young bloke and I was absolutely loving it. I actually can’t think of a better way to learn the game.
LIFE IN THE TERRITORY
I went to the winter Test against Bangladesh at Marrara Oval in 2003. Boof Lehman and Steve Waugh scored hundreds, but I remember more about the event and the excitement around it than anything that actually went on in the game itself.
It was a massive occasion for all of us in the Territory – the first ever Test match to be played up there. The whole city got right behind it. That Aussie team was full of stars like Jason Gillespie and Justin Langer and Glenn McGrath. The place was buzzing.
There wasn’t a lot of top level cricket in Darwin back then and no obvious pathway to a career in the game. I was made aware of that from a pretty young age. I had a lot of people telling me not to waste my talent. Others before me had stayed in the Territory and probably regretted not chasing a state or national career elsewhere.
The wickets up north were great for a kid learning the game. When I was really young, I played for Tracy Village, then I moved to Waratahs. I played there up until the under 17s, including a few games of first grade, and then I played two or three years of first grade with Palmerston.
I was 13 when I made my first grade debut. It was certainly a different experience!
I didn’t get sledged too badly and all the grown-ups were pretty good about it because I was so little. I was batting at No. 11 and just there to fill in numbers. Still, even at such a young age, it was great to be able to test my game against grown men.