Commonwealth Bank Bushrangers rookie Sam Grimwade believes he is a much-improved player following a big winter with the National Performance Squad (NPS).
The 18-year-old off-spinner, who represented the NPS in the Quadrangular A Series against Australia A, India A and South Africa A, as well as turning out for the Cricket Australia XI during the Matador BBQs Cup earlier this month, has just been named to represent Victoria Metro at this year’s Under 19 National Championships in Adelaide.
Grimwade is one of three Bushrangers rookies in Victoria’s under-19s squads, with Xavier Crone and Blake Thomson to line-up for Victoria Country.
“I think my whole game has got a lot stronger,” Grimwade told cricket.com.au.
“I’m more aware of what my game is now and I’ve added a few little tricks here and there, so I‘ve been really lucky with all the experiences I’ve had and hopefully they hold me in good stead for this season.”
It’s been an action-packed six months for the Melbourne teenager.
Grimwade was identified as a player of the future with his selection in the National Performance Squad, which completed an intensive three-month training program aimed at preparing Australia’s next wave of talent for first-class cricket over the winter at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.
Part of that was the opportunity to spend time training with members of the national side in the sub-continent.
“A few of us got to go to India and Sri Lanka, which was a really good experience to see the different cultures of both countries and experience the conditions,” he said.
“We were up there for about three months, just training the whole time.
“The exposure to the senior Australian players was great, we were able to see what it takes at the top level and were given invaluable advice about the pathway to the top.
“With the NPS, we were lucky enough to be involved in the Quadrangular A series, with Australia A, India A and South Africa A, which was amazing. We played six one-dayers, and we won our first two which was a great thrill for us. I think everyone took a lot out of it.”
Quick Single: Pink ball not to blame for red faces: Short
Grimwade played three matches for the NPS during the Quadrangular Series, coming up against the likes of international stars Glenn Maxwell and David Miller - just to name two - plus two games in the Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, one of those opening the bowling against his state teammates, a star-studded Victorian line-up.
He said the Matador Cup experience had been an eye-opener, coming together with a group of talented young players from across the country, to compete against the best in the country.
“It was probably the most intense experience, in terms of being on the field,” he said.
“I guess that’s what CA have identified as trying to progress our development, by putting us in a situation where we’re uncomfortable.
“I think everyone is really going to learn from their mistakes from that tour, but also the little bits of success will hopefully drive everyone a long way.”
Making the adjustment from junior ranks to competing day-in, day-out against seasoned professional cricketers has been the toughest challenge.
It’s forced Grimwade to come up with new tricks and new tactics, which he hopes will hold him in good stead this summer.
“(I’ve been) trying to think about the game a bit more,” he said.
“Coming out of junior cricket into senior cricket, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that tactical nous, because often if you’re not thinking the batsman will be one step ahead of you.
“We had a lot of match scenarios throughout the NPS and they really challenge you to think about fields and where you’re going to bowl the ball, and for a batsman where they’re looking to score.”
Quick Single: How Harry became SA's accidental hero
With a minor finger injury ruling Grimwade out of the CA XI’s final two Matador Cup matches, he’s now had a little bit of time back in Melbourne to think about the season ahead - and the upcoming under-19 championships in Adelaide.
“It is really exciting. I love going away on those tournaments and playing with all those mates that I see quite often, and challenging myself against the best in the country at under-19 level,” he said.
“My goals for the season are just to try to perform well at every opportunity I get, whether that’s club cricket, when Adelaide comes around and hopefully a few Futures League games here and there and we’ll see what happens.”
Victoria Country Under-19 squad: Jack Bouwmeester (Bendigo United CC), Angus Boyd (Geelong CC), Xavier Crone (Carlton CC), Thomas Ewing (Frankston Peninsula CC), Ryan Hartley (Prahran CC), Jack Lalor (Northcote CC), Wilson McGillivray (Melbourne CC), Matthew Milne (Carlton CC), Tom Rogers (Melbourne University CC), Brodie Symons (Frankston-Peninsula), Blake Thomson (Melbourne CC), Leyton Thulborn (Geelong CC), Matthew Underwood (Footscray-Edgewater CC)
Victoria Metro Under-19 squad: Mitchell Barnewall (Essendon CC), Damon Egan (St Kilda CC), Jack Gilbert (St Kilda CC), Sam Grimwade (Prahran CC), Josh Hudson (Melbourne CC), Noah Korkolis (Fitzroy-Doncaster CC), Jon Merlo (St Kilda CC), Nathan Murphy (Melbourne CC), Edward Newman (Dandenong CC), Blake Parsons (Prahran CC), Mitch Perry (Monash Tigers CC), Will Pucovski (Melbourne CC), Ryan Quirk (Dandenong CC)
International cricket is more affordable than ever this summer, with adult tickets from $30, kids from $10 and family packages from $65 across every day of international cricket. Price for purchase at match. Transaction fee from $6.95 applies to online and other purchases. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.