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MATADOR BBQS ONE-DAY CUP 2015

Michael finds home on round-about journey

18 October 2015

Michael all smiles after his maiden domestic hundred // Getty Images

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Unsung batsman repaying the faith shown by Tigers with a breakthrough Matador Cup campaign

@martinsmith9994
@martinsmith9994

Martin Smith is a writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.

From the Netherlands to Tasmania via Queensland and England's south-east, Dominic Michael is the ultimate nomadic cricketer.

A Brisbane product with a Greek-Cypriot father and a Samoan mother, the 28-year-old has battled away on the fringes of Australia's domestic scene for the most part of this decade.

It's a journey that started with Second XI cricket in his native Queensland five years ago, included a year in the Dutch 'Topklasse' in 2013 and a stint representing the Netherlands as an overseas player in England's domestic one-day competition.

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He also played Second XI cricket for English counties Kent and Surrey before, having drifted in and out of Queensland's Sheffield Shield side, he received a surprise phone call from Tasmania's assistant coach Damien Wright at the end of the 2013-14 season.

Plans to enter the full-time workforce were scrapped and Michael instead headed south to the Apple Isle, following the trail blazed by the likes of Ed Cowan, Jackson Bird and Ben Dunk.

And the enormous faith placed in him by Tasmania's coaching staff is starting to pay dividends.

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Having ended the 2014-15 Shield season with his maiden first-class fifties, including a score of 97 against South Australia, Michael was thrown into the crucial No.3 position for the Tigers’ Matador BBQs One-Day Cup campaign.

Picked alongside the likes of George Bailey, James Faulkner and Tim Paine, and ahead of former Test batsman Alex Doolan, Michael opened his campaign with an unbeaten 51 in the first-up win against his former state Queensland. 

He then blazed eight boundaries in another half-century against a star-studded NSW Blues attack before a composed century against defending champions WA on Saturday, his first-ever hundred in Australian domestic cricket.

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The fuzzy-haired left-hander now has an impressive List A batting average of 57.77, boosted by four fifties, that lone century and eight not outs from 17 innings.

And it’s the belief shown by Tasmania's hierarchy to bat him in the top three that has sparked his breakout start to the season.

"It makes me feel good," he said after claiming man-of-the-match honours in Tassie's stunning win over the Warriors.

"It's always good when you have the coaches and captain and vice-captain on your side. It's a subtle way of (them) saying, ‘We're behind you’ when you go out to bat.

"Marshy (head coach Dan Marsh) has been really good so far in telling me to just go out and play. It's been working so far because I don't know if thinking too much helps me. So just being natural is the best way for me to go at the moment."

Michael was relaxed and self-effacing when he spoke to cricket.com.au on Saturday night, moments before he joined his Tigers side for a stirring rendition of their team song following their remarkable comeback win.

He joked that he tries not to think about the fact there are four Australian representatives and highly-rated youngster Jake Doran alongside him in the top six, lest he throw his wicket away in the belief they would do a better job.

He laughed about copping a nasty blow "in the agates" and the luck he had facing Test quick Mitchell Johnson on what was, luckily for Michael, a slow and low track at Drummoyne Oval.

But centring focus on the team's success over Michael's, as the man himself was keen to do, would be under-selling his performance.

The stylish left-hander struck Johnson for three boundaries in his opening spell before leaning into a delightful straight drive from AJ Tye's bowling and slog-sweeping Ashton Agar over the midwicket boundary.

He struck 10 boundaries and a six in all, making best use of the harder, newer ball in a match where almost 70 per cent of the total runs were scored by the respective top threes.

He says the platform for his breakthrough century – two-and-a-half years after his List A debut – was laid with those two attacking half-centuries earlier in the tournament, which included a total of 11 fours and two sixes.

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"You always try and have that sort of confidence," he said. "I've just tried to focus on one ball at a time because sometimes the big picture just takes a little bit too long to get there. So I just tried to break it down.

"I've got a few fifties so far and the pressure's on in our team to go big when you get to 50. So I'm really happy with how it worked out.

"But I'm more happy we got the win because there's not much point batting like that if you don't get the team over the line."

Tasmania's come-from-behind victory – the Warriors were 0-102 at one point in pursuit of 223 – moved them to second on the Matador Cup table and put them in control of their own destiny as they seek to qualify for Friday's elimination final.

And a crucial player in Tuesday's game against Victoria will be Michael, a cricketing nomad who may have finally found his home.