Like many other Australians, the national men’s cricket team has been captivated by the journey of former rugby league star Jarryd Hayne.
So much so in fact, that Steve Smith and co had cricket.com.au present the ‘Hayne Plane’, now playing in the United States’ National Football League with the San Francisco 49ers, with a signed team bat.
The 27-year-old, who grew up watching Australia’s golden era dominate world cricket, was blown away by the gesture.
“This is unreal – I’ll be getting this framed,” Hayne told cricket.com.au as he played a few impromptu pull shots.
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“Gee this takes me back to last summer, swinging a cricket bat. Me and my mates went mental with beach cricket. There was nothing better. When I was back home, it was probably one of the funnest summers I’ve had – beach cricket, a few cold beers and the boys.
“We had this really good game going where runs were dictated on metres – how far you hit the ball was how many runs you got.
“It was a great concept we came up with. It was pretty random – we started in the backyard then when it got hot we ventured down the beach.”
The signed bat isn’t the first piece of cricket equipment in Hayne’s collection of sporting memorabilia, with the former league international idolising one of the all-time greats in his teenage years.
Aussie legends Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden // Getty Images
“I bought one of Adam Gilchrist’s cricket bats at an auction in 2008,” he said. “Definitely Gilchrist was a favourite of mine.
“Ricky Ponting was awesome. I got to meet him once and that was great, I was a bit shell-shocked to be honest. And I didn’t realise how short he is – I think all the best batters are so short.
“Matthew Hayden was another one I loved watching – he was just a big beast.
“The Test matches are a bit long for me but any one-dayer or now Twenty20 is good fun.”
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Hayne, who played 20 matches for New South Wales, said cricket was very much a pre-game tradition in Blues State of Origin camps.
“I remember Greg Bird went alright when we played on Origin game days,” he added. “Some of those games we got a bit carried away – it was almost to the point where it was like, ‘Come on boys, we’ve got a game tonight – we can’t be going too silly on the cricket!’”