At 17, your life is only just beginning. I know it sounds funny saying that, like any young guy you often feel like you know it all, that life has great plans in store for you, but you’ll soon realise it’s been easy until now. Determination, persistence and a willingness to do the hard work are qualities you possess but over the next 12 years you will forge these to become pillars of your character that will help define the person, and yes, the cricketer you become.
Sometimes growing up in Canberra it can feel confining but just know how lucky you are to grow up in a community that has your back. You’re very fortunate, growing up with a loving family. You know Mum and Dad work hard to provide everything they can for you, to give you the best opportunities so you can chase your dreams. However, you won’t realise how much until you move away and that big move is coming sooner than you think. After impressing in an Under 19’s carnival you get a chance to head to Sydney to bowl to the WA players in the nets. That opportunity leads to you travelling to WA to compete for a spot in the team. You’re nervous, naturally, but even at 18 you take it in your stride and it’s you who two weeks later gets that call from Tom Moody. You’ve just been offered a 2-year rookie contract with WA. It’s a step towards attaining your dream, you’ve got your foot in the door but trust me don’t get ahead of yourself, the hard work only starts now.
You’ve never lived out of home so it’s tough living on the other side of the country at first, you probably don’t want to hear this at 17 but you call home every day, sometimes you even wonder if you’ve made the right decision. Remember when I said you’ll soon realise how much Mum and Dad did for you? How much you relied on them without knowing it? It’s this moment right here. You have a choice and you decide you better grow up and adapt quickly. So, you do and in doing so you also learn a lot about yourself; you are stronger, more resilient than you could ever know. It’s that maturity, resilience and taking accountability that defines your attitude to the rest of life’s outcomes, something you’ll realise in just your second year for WA.
In your second year of your rookie contract you hit your first major injury snag. It sucks. But it’s OK, you have always been determined when you set a goal. You do just that, work hard through your rehab and by the end of the season that persistence sees you play your first state game where you impress and subsequently you earn another contract with WA.
You continue to grow. Cricket doesn’t absorb all your life in the west. You study. You make some great mates that respect you and your values. You also meet a girl; you brag about her to family and friends back home. I could go on for hours about her... but you’ll find out soon enough how special she is. Let’s just put it this way, she becomes your biggest support and strength, helping you keep a good life balance and perspective especially when times get tough.
Mate, I’ll be honest, life does get tough, real tough. You get your first induction into the fast bowler’s club in 2014; lower back stress fractures and they reoccur several times more over following seasons to come. You get to know the rehab room well, you miss out on opportunities, opportunities you have always dreamed of. Some days you won’t want to get out of bed just to drive to the WACA to see the four concrete walls of the rehab gym. But you do. More days than I would like to admit you wonder what the point of it all is. You’re sick and tired of the rehab exercises, same stuff different day, even different year and more than anything you just want to play cricket. But you persist and keep to the program, as long as you keep moving forward you keep that dream alive.
Your Christian faith has been a crucial part of your life growing up and it is a great strength in your life as an adult and a cricketer. During the hard times you face, the times when you wonder if there is a point to the pain, the constant rebuilding, you will learn to let go, hand it over to God and walk in faith. Trusting that there is a bigger picture that you can’t see at the time is not easy (especially for you as you still like to be in control of just about everything even now as I write this) but it’s called faith for a reason.
Everyone always says you have one of the best jobs in the world and I’ll be honest, in those dark days of injury it doesn’t feel like it but you keep believing and trusting in yourself and your faith, because in the end it will all be worth it.
And you realise how much it is in 2017 (this letter isn’t all negative). I won’t tell you all the details except that the hard work and persistence pays off - you will make your debut for your country. I don’t know if I could even explain the feeling of standing at the top of your mark, as you are about bowl for the first time as an Australian player. It’s one of those moments where you realise it is all worth it.
But it’s not just cricket that gives you meaning. It’s family, it’s a little boy who you’ll name Harrison. He comes into your life at a time when you are at one of your highest highs and he gives you great perspective when life doesn’t go to your plan. It is one of the most amazing feelings coming home to your family, to Harrison who is so full of life (he doesn’t have an off switch). His smile brings so much joy to you and Juvelle. This family of yours keeps you grounded, and it gives you more determination to succeed, to pursue your dream further.
To have them share in all your experiences makes it so much more special, none more so from where I am writing this; London as you represent Australia in the ODI World Cup. Yes mate, you read that right. I could tell you all about yesterday’s game at Lords against England… but I won’t, you need to experience it for yourself but trust me, it will all be worth it.
I could go on and on about what the next 12 years will hold for you, the experiences, places you see and people you meet however it won’t happen if you don’t see it through. You have talent that’s for sure but it’s what you do with it, how hard you want to work, how much you’re willing to sacrifice and ultimately how much you want it that will define how far you will go.
The persistence, the hard work, the setbacks, the success – it will all be worth it.