Tigers’ youngsters reflect on the Perth challenge ahead of National U-19 Championships

The Tigers will take on Greenvale Kangaroos in the eighth round this Saturday albeit without seven youngsters, who will travel to Perth for the National U-19 Championships.

Will Parker, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Zac Sleeman and Kyle Viccars are slated to play for Vic Metro. Parker was also named the skipper of the young side. While Jonathan D’Rozario and Yash Pednekar will feature for the Vic Country side. Meanwhile, Bailey Moon was drafted in the Cricket Australia XI squad.

Reflecting on the development, Monash Tigers coach Shannon Young said, “Look it’s a really proud moment for the club, isn’t it? I think I was very happy that all seven made it. It’s pretty significant even though the 19s has been split into metro and country with Moon playing in the CA XI. Seven young players going off to play the best tournament in Australia for their age group is pretty satisfying as a club. It’s great recognition for them and the hard work that they put in”.

When asked about the mindset that the players should have ahead of the tournament, Young opined, “Just enjoy the experience. The interesting thing is that they came to our program at different times but they all are young kids. The crucial thing is that the culture that we have built is that age doesn’t matter. We have had really high level of expectations from some of these kids since the age of 13. So that holds them in good stead. Just back yourself. Hopefully they go and apply the lessons they have learnt here from facing senior guys.”

“They will get to form new relationships with players from all over the state and country. It’s not just a great cricket opportunity. It is a great life opportunity. All of them want to be first-class cricketers so that’s what the national championships do. The CA people walking around and their coaches are really experienced. There’s guys like Greg Chappell. Ryan Harris coaches the CA XI. Chris Rogers is up there as well. So the players are in the spotlight. We just want them to enjoy the experience.”

The tournament kicks off on 2 December at Iluka Sports Complex, with Victoria Country taking on South Australia. The final is scheduled at the WACA on 12 December.

Tigers spoke to all the seven players about the call-up, their preparations and the role of the club. Here are the excerpts:

The reaction…

D’Rozario: So we found out maybe two weeks ago now. It was a process that took a long time, started in about April maybe. Once the time came and the teams were announced it was quite enjoyable because of the hard work. There was a lot of joy that came out because we made the team. It was good to see that the hard work was taken notice of.

Pednekar: It’s been a pretty long process. I guess all the hard work paid off a bit. I think it is a great opportunity for us to showcase our skills there with no fear and have a good go I guess.

Viccars: A bit of relief after a bit of hard work. How I went about it? Just try to go back to Premier level and make runs which I did. So I think I have done well.

Sleeman: Yeah pretty exciting you go up with what seven Tigers (to the U-19 Championships). It’s good to know that you are up there with your mates and blokes who can back you. For me, it was just about doing what I know I do well. Showing that to people who select the teams.

Fraser-McGurk: The U-19s tournament, I am really looking forward to it, playing with blokes of my own age and playing with my mates as well. It probably would be different competition wise but I am going to take it like every other game.

Parker: I was quite shocked to be honest obviously being a bottom-ager, I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was just hoping to make the team let alone be the captain. I didn’t really have an indication at all. I mean I captained the practice match the week before but I thought I was just getting a go. So obviously wrapped being captain and stoked as well because I am trying to get leadership on board as well so looking forward to Perth.

Moon: I was quite shocked when I found out I was playing for the CA side. I am really happy. Really excited to play some high quality cricket out there and being under age like Will is… I am looking to take it on. Hopefully, it will be a great championship for us – all the Vic boys.

Jonathan D’Rozario, Will Parker, Bailey Moon, Kyle Viccars, Jake Fraser-McGurk and Zac Sleeman.

On the preparation…

D’Rozario: We have already put in a lot of hard work so it’s just about backing that before going into the tournament. Take all the experience – whether it’s good or bad – and learn from it. It is a great opportunity for me  to play against the best talent in Australia. It’s vital to enjoy it and do well.

Pednekar: I think the main thing that Youngy (Shannon Young) says – doing the basics for longer. I know it’s eight games and 11 days but I guess the team that does the basics right for longer will prevail. (Necessary to) not over complicate it. I guess we have done all the hard work now it’s just about going out in the park and applying yourself.

Viccars: I wouldn’t say I have prepared differently. Over the past few years, I have just kept it relaxed. Just get my mind off it a bit as well. Avoiding overthinking and keep it as simple as I can. I am pretty pleased to be there with what 50 or 60 blokes out of the whole U-19s in Australia so bit of a privilege to be there and then to perform at the same level to show that you are good enough and maybe one day go out and play for Australia.

Sleeman: I think Premier Cricket’s a fairly good preparation. You go out there every Saturday against some of the best in the state and then you go to Perth with the best players of the other states. It’s pretty good preparation over here to (go out there and) play against the best of the best.

Fraser-McGurk: There’s a bit more expected of you after playing Shield and the One Day cup. But yeah I have got another year of 19s after this so it’s nothing different. I played last year. I have played all the youth pathway games and all that stuff so I am quite used to playing against players my own age. So I am looking forward to it.

Parker: I haven’t changed too much. I have just been focusing on Richmond. I haven’t been focusing on the U-19 Championships too much. When I reach Perth, I will switch into that zone.

Moon: I have been working very hard at Richmond. The harder I work here the better I will be prepared for Perth. One of the key factors is going to be weather compared to Melbourne so more of my preparation has been around that. Trying to get used to playing in hot weather. Working hard and longer in hot weather. In terms of cricket, though, it has been the same.

The emotions ahead of the tournament..

D’Rozario: So we (Pednekar and D’Rozario) started to play VMCU together when we were 9. Since then we have played representative cricket every year so it’s obviously being a long road. Nine years now it’s been and now we are getting to play for the big V. Good opportunity for both of us good mates and hopefully we go well.

Jonathan D’Rozario and Yash Pednekar, who have been playing cricket together since a decade, will feature for Vic Country.

Pednekar: It’s not about putting too much pressure on yourself. I think we (D’Rozario and Pednekar) know that we both are pretty good players that’s why we are in team. So just got to go out there and not prove to anyone I guess but just back our skills and hopefully play well for the team and win the championships.

Sleeman: Pretty excited and a little bit nervous as well to go out there and perform at the main stage. We got a great group and I think it will be really good to put performances on the park with those group of boys on the main stage for our age group so pretty excited yeah.

Fraser-McGurk: I am really looking forward to getting out to Perth. It’s a great place. I have been there before. It’s quite hot up there. Playing at good venues and we could play at the WACA in the finals if we get there hopefully. I am really excited.

Parker: Personally, as a bottom-ager, just looking to play some high quality cricket with the best U19s in the country. It’s going to be a challenge and I am always looking to push myself. This is a perfect opportunity especially with captaincy which brings a bit of extra preparation and I am keen for the challenge.

Moon: I am pretty excited for the competition. Being there last year gives a glimpse with respect to what to expect. Hopefully I can do pretty well when I am there. I am looking forward to bowling on nice and bouncy bowling wickets. The competition would be quite good and will be a good challenge to test the batsmen over there.

Role of the club…

D’Rozario: Obviously I came to the club… this is my third year in the senior list with fourth at being the club. When I first came to the club the meaning of being a cricketer definitely changed. As soon as I walked into the club, the senior guys and Youngy being the coach obviously played a pivotal role in widening my eyes to how much cricket means to yourself and the other things outside of the sport and how they impact the game. Richmond Cricket Club has definitely taught me about the teamwork and leadership and taking on different roles within the team and opened my eyes to what cricket really is.

Pednekar: I think the club has helped me not only with my batting but also my fielding. I think being around such a strong environment with a huge focus on fielding. I have been here for five years now and I think that’s one area where I have improved the most. I think I have learnt things not only about cricket but also about how to be a good person. The club produces not only good cricketers but also good people.

Viccars: I think just playing for four-five years at the club has really developed my batting and also game mind set. It has helped me grow as a person, understand my game a bit more. Hopefully will take that experience to play in the championships.

Fraser-McGurk: Monash has always been a great helping hand. I have been here since I was 13-14. Shannon Young has been quite big in my career so far. He’s probably the main person who has helped me get to where I am right now and he’s probably the smartest person I have ever talked to about cricket. He lives and breathes cricket. So I guess, I wouldn’t have been the player that I am without the club.

Parker: Richmond has been amazing… starting from the academy, a year there and then being pushed to the senior list, I have just learned so much and progressed as a player. I would never have been in a lot of programs if it wasn’t for Richmond. The player I have become is just second to none as compared to when I was a junior.

Moon: This is my first season here but I have got a lot to thank to Richmond. I have been in the academy for three to four years getting lots of opportunities to improve not only my game but leadership and off field behaviour. I think I have learnt all this from Richmond because of the opportunities provided this year to do well. Without them, I wouldn’t be in this position that I am. So the club has been outstanding.