Kellaway brushes off scare to seize World Cup chance
Campbell Kellaway will be one of the prized wickets at the Under 19 World Cup but the Victorian teenager almost missed his chance to make Australia's side due to a COVID scare
26 December 2021, 11:30 AM AEST
(Main photo credit: Chris Thomas)
Exciting top-order batter Campbell Kellaway is set to play a major role in Australia's upcoming Under 19 World Cup campaign, but the Victorian says it hadn't yet sunk in that he will be playing for his nation.
After receiving the welcome call from Cricket Australia Head of National Development Graham Manou, telling him he had made the 15-player squad following a training camp in Adelaide earlier this month, Kellaway has his sights set up helping Australia to their first title since 2010.
The Victorian had felt fortunate to be able to make the trip interstate for the camp – something Queensland and Western Australia hopefuls could not do due to border restrictions – but it was almost in vain, as an unexpected phone call left him fearing his chance might slip away.
"I had a bit of a COVID scare actually on the first day; I was a casual contact, so that threw a bit of a spanner in the works for the first day or two," Kellaway told cricket.com.au.
"I got a call the night before the first game and had to go isolate in a room on my own."
Shattered that he might not be able to showcase his prodigious talent with the bat to selectors one more time, Kellaway could do nothing but wait.
Then, a whirlwind 24 hours got even more bizarre.
"The game was a day-nighter and it got to about two o'clock and I was still isolating, so I got some Uber Eats and thought that I'd just be sitting tight for the night," he said.
"It got to 7.30pm and I was watching the Big Bash, half asleep, and Emma one of the team managers called me and told me that I was all clear, so I got picked up and went down to the game and was batting 20 minutes later.
"It was a pretty weird day or two, but it was good to get the all clear and get a bit of cricket in."
Thankful he wasn't confined to an Adelaide hotel room all week, Kellaway made the most of his time out in the middle and cemented his already likely place in the Australian squad.
The 18-year-old is one of the country's most promising junior cricketers and started this year's Victorian Premier season in blistering form, with two first XI centuries in just his second season in the top grade.
Playing for Melbourne Cricket Club, at times padding up alongside emerging stars such as Will Pucovski and Sam Harper, Kellaway has fantastic people to lean on when he gets the chance.
"Puc (Will Pucovski) is always pretty busy but when he does come down to training, he's a ripper fella and always takes a bit of time out of his day to come have a chat," he said.
"I've played a little bit with Sammy over the past couple of years and he's a class player and is very good with the gloves.
"He's a gun bat as well, so it's been good to bat with him at times and talk to him about how he goes about it.
"I'm pretty grateful that I get to talk to blokes like that who are always keen to help me with my cricket."
Kellaway will have MCC company in the World Cup squad, with 17-year-old and the team's sole bottom age player, Harkirat Bajwa also on the plane to the Windies.
"He's a gun Harky, a very good bowler that's very tough to face in the nets twice a week," Kellaway said.
"For a kid who's only 17 … it's a really good achievement so I'm sure he's going to go very well over there in the Caribbean.
"It's exciting to be able to head overseas with another player from your club."
While Kellaway's opening six games in the 2021-22 Premier season have been pivotal for the teenager's confidence, it was a Toyota Second XI match for his state late last month that has him excited to keep rising to higher levels of cricket.
"I got the (second XI) game at the 'G …. it was an unbelievable experience, and I was pretty rapt to get a gig," he said.
"To play a bit of red-ball cricket and have a short leg in and have a few balls go past your ears is something I haven't really had to deal much with.
"From a learning point of view, it was invaluable, and it was pretty cool to play at the MCG for the first time as well."
Graduating from Caufield Grammar last year, Kellaway began a double degree in business and arts at Monash University at the start of 2021 but decided to defer his second semester studies to play cricket in Darwin, with the prospect of representing his country in the back of his mind.
"To get up to Darwin over winter was really good preparation while a lot of the rest of the country was in lockdown," Kellaway said.
"I was pretty lucky to be up in the sunshine up there and getting plenty of cricket in.
"(The World Cup) is something I've been looking to have a crack at and now to make the side, it's a fair bit of hard work and sacrifice that's paying off."
The left-hander will likely enter Australia's first fixture against hosts West Indies in Guyana on January 14 as one of their opening batters, however there is an alternate universe where he could have taken one of his teammate's positions in the side as an opening bowler.
Through his early teenage years, Kellaway was terrorising batters with his left-arm pace, but stress fractures in his back in recent years hindered his hopes of being a genuine fast bowler.
"I was probably more of a bowling allrounder when I was younger, but I've had a few back niggles over the past few years which have been pretty frustrating," Kellaway said.
"I didn’t bowl for about three years … in that time my batting kicked on a little bit and has become my main craft.
"It's probably helped me, just to learn that injuries are a big part of sport … I'm certainly not the only bowler to get stress reactions or stress fractures.
"It's helped me batting wise; that's something I've really been able to focus on."
With the Australian squad convening on Melbourne on December 28 before they jet off to the Caribbean, Kellaway is channelling his focus into his own game, with his upcoming opposition an unknown challenge.
"Most of my cricket research is checking the premier cricket results from the weekend and that's about the extent of it," Kellaway said.
"I certainly haven’t been checking how the boys in England and South Africa go every weekend, so I couldn't tell you what the other teams will be like, but I'm sure it's going to be a pretty red-hot tournament.
"It's coming around pretty fast and before I know it, we'll all be training together in Melbourne, and then heading off … so it's all a bit of a blur, but it's pretty exciting."