School's out for Sinfield's World Cup summer
Cricket is at the forefront of Queensland teenager Jackson Sinfield's mind, with the Under 19 World Cup squad member even passing on 'Schoolies' celebrations to join Queenland's state squad last month
22 December 2021, 01:01 PM AEST
Completing high school, being picked in his first Sheffield Shield squad, and earning a place in the final 15-player group Australia will send to the Under-19 World Cup; it's been a big few weeks for promising Queenslander Jackson Sinfield.
The allrounder had barely graduated high school when he found out he was in the Bulls' squad for their Marsh Sheffield Shield match against South Australia last month, and said he was happy to park any end-of-year formalities for the trip to Adelaide.
"I'd finished school earlier in the week and then got a call mid-week that I was going to be going down to Adelaide with the (Queensland) boys, so that was a crazy time, and I loved the experience," Sinfield told cricket.com.au.
"I'd take going down to Adelaide with the Bulls over schoolies any day that's for certain."
While a first-class debut didn't come, being named as 12th man for the clash at Karen Rolton Oval, Sinfield would find comfort in the news he received just a couple of weeks later, as he saw his name among those for the ICC U19 World Cup set to begin in the West Indies next month.
But his selection wouldn't come easy. With Queensland's border restrictions not allowing him and his fellow Queensland hopefuls to attend the training camp for the initial 37-player squad in Adelaide in early December, the off-spinner could only pray his past performances would be enough to make the final cut.
"Queensland declared Adelaide a hotspot, so we would've had to quarantine for a couple of weeks when we got back, so Queensland (Cricket) made the decision that we weren't going to go down," Sinfield said.
"We were all set and ready to go until the day before when they closed the border on us, so that wasn't great.
"It was a shame that us Queensland boys missed out … but to get the call back at home (notifying him he was in the squad) was relieving to say the least."
His selection without even attending the final training camp is evidence enough of the 18-year-old's talent, with the past few seasons playing for premier side Redlands in senior cricket leaving Sinfield confident he can match it with some of the world's best young players.
"I've played a couple of years of first grade men's cricket now and I feel like I've had a fair exposure to what they (selectors) were looking for," he said.
"The ball is coming out really nicely, it's always tough bowling on Queensland decks as an off-spinner, there isn’t a lot of purchase.
"In the shorter format stuff, I feel like I bowled really well, and the two-day cricket gives me a chance to really slow down and work on my shape."
Sinfield would consider himself fortunate with the company he has at his premier side, with Redlands home to a host of Bulls stars such as Jimmy Pierson, Sam Heazlett and James Bazley. But unsurprisingly, there's one other Redlands Tiger that Sinfield has gravitated to when he's had the chance.
"I've had plenty to do with Marnus (Labuschagne), he's played a few games of first grade this year and then I was lucky enough to go away with the Queensland Bulls last month and I got to spend a lot of time with him over that week," he said.
"He's an amazing cricketer, he loves the game, and he loves talking to me about it.
"He could have easily not given me much, being a big Australian Test cricketer, but he's the nicest bloke you'll meet and is really welcoming."
The young Queenslander has been on the radar for a long period of time now, joining the Brisbane Heat as a local replacement player for KFC BBL|10 last summer, and said it was a thrill to be alongside both familiar and new faces that have helped fast track his development.
"It was easy to transition into personnel wise," he said.
"It helped that so many guys from Redlands that I play with a lot are in both the Queensland Bulls and the Heat.
"Also, guys who I'd never met before like Mujeeb (Ur Rahman) and some of the international players were great."
While he didn’t play a BBL match last summer - much like his experience with the Shield squad earlier this year - he came oh so close, giving him a unique feeling of déjà vu.
"Playing in the Big Bash was something I never dreamed of even being close to it at that age, so being named X-factor was an absolute honour," Sinfield said.
"It was actually against the team with a lot of those guys who I nearly played against last month (in the Shield game).
"The Adelaide Strikers have a whole bunch of left handers, so I was picked (as the) X-factor for that game and wasn't subbed on, but that was a nervy time."
With the best underage players around the world convening on the Caribbean for the 2022 edition of the U19 World Cup, spin is set to play a major factor in the 50-over format.
Just like the Heat saw his off-spinning capabilities as a potential weapon, so too have the Australian U19 selectors, with Sinfield itching at the prospect of playing a crucial role as one of the team's front-line spinners for the tournament.
"I know that my main role will be as a spinner, going to the West Indies I know a lot of the decks are turning, so I'd say that will probably be my primary role," he said.
"If you ask anyone, they'd probably say I'm a bowling allrounder, definitely an off-spinner first, but I back myself with the bat and if I get the chance to bat in the middle order, I certainly won't take it lightly."
With the Australians taking on the hosts in their first game on January 14, the biggest few weeks of Sinfield's cricket career are rapidly approaching. Fortunately for him, as well as fellow Queenslanders Toby Snell and Tom Whitney, their tournament preparation won't be hindered by an absence from the main group.
"We fly down to Melbourne on the 28th (of December) and spend a couple of days there and have a intra-squad trial match before we fly out," Sinfield said.
"Then there's a couple of days quarantine when we get to the West Indies and then we're straight into it with a trial match.
"There's a lot of boys who I get along really well within the squad and I'm looking forward to it."