Wyllie ready to take centre stage at U19 World Cup
Likened to a young Damien Martyn, the prodigiously talented WA opening batter is brimming with confidence ahead of Australia's looming U19 World Cup campaign
8 January 2022, 03:02 PM AEST
Western Australian prodigy Teague Wyllie has been likened to Damien Martyn, but the young opener who's been playing representative cricket since he was a 10-year-old is firmly focussed on playing his role in Australia's U19 World Cup campaign that begins next week.
Wyllie plays for Rockingham-Mandurah in WA Premier Cricket under the tutelage of former KFC BBL cult figure Craig Simmons, scoring his maiden first grade century in October 2020 as a 16-year-old, and prompted his club coach to make the audacious comparison to a Western Australian legend.
"The way he bats for such a young age he actually bats like a young Damien Martyn," said Simmons, himself famous for his 39-ball century for the Perth Scorchers in BBL|03.
"I know that's a fairly big wrap but the way he times the ball and scores freely it reminds me a lot of him.
"He's a freak, we've known it at our club since he was 12. You could always see he was going to make it to a high level."
Wyllie's journey may be just beginning, but his surname is synonymous with cricket in Mandurah, some 70km south of Perth, where his passion for the game developed.
"I'm from the country, and the A-Grade competition down there is called the Wyllie Cup, named after my father, his two brothers and cousins," the teenager said.
"At one stage there were all the Wyllies playing in the one A-Grade side, so they've had a very strong tie-in with the association down there.
"I've never been forced into playing cricket because of my last name; that's the last thing my parents would do, it just happens that I really love cricket and it runs in our blood pretty much."
Those who keep tabs on the game in the west will no doubt have heard the Wyllie name. Indeed, Teague's older sister Georgia has already forged her own path in cricket, currently holding a Western Australia and Perth Scorchers contract.
The 17-year-old is determined to forge his own path in the spotlight. He made his first state team as a 10 year old and has been on selectors' radars for several years now.
The long association with the game has left him feeling well accustomed to representative cricket.
"Every tournament I've gone to I've learned heaps and heaps out of," he said.
"They're experiences that you're going to take with you for the next 20 or 30 years; going on a tour with your mates for two weeks and representing your state."
He already has national experience too, playing for the Cricket Australia XI at the 2019 U17 National Championships, while he's also no stranger to foreign conditions.
In early 2019, Wyllie toured India with local coaching agency Cricket Mentoring and said already having experience overseas would hold him in good stead for the upcoming World Cup, especially given the role spin bowling is expected to play.
"India was unreal. To experience the different pitches and the different lifestyle and culture it was unbelievable," he said.
"I don’t think in my first net session I hit a ball, everything was just spinning past the bat and going under the bat, but after time you just adapt, and you learn how to play to the conditions.
"I don't think I'd be where I am now without having experienced that tour with Scollsy (Cricket Mentoring coach Tom Scollay) a couple of years ago."
Having trained and played in unfavourable conditions, as well as having played against men for the majority of his career, the right hander says he will feel more than comfortable in the underage tournament in the West Indies, pointing to his recent form for his state's second XI side as reason for his competency against quality competition.
"I played my first game of senior cricket when I was eight years old, so I've always been accustomed to playing against men," he said.
"I thoroughly enjoy playing second eleven cricket, it's a great brand of cricket and it's really tough.
"Four-day cricket is my favourite format by far, it's the purest form of the game, you've got to be patient and usually over four days the best team wins."
With scores of 79, 112, 153* and 38* in second XI games so far this season, Wyllie has made it evident that he's most comfortable when at the batting crease. Although the World Cup is comprised of 50-over matches, the teenager suspects his role will be much the same, with this mindset being drilled into him at his premier club.
"I love batting and ever since I was a young kid, I've just not liked getting out … every time I go out there, I just try and bat as long as I can," he said.
"My role in one-day cricket is pretty similar to what it is in the longer format; I'm just looking to try and bat through the whole innings and anchor it and be the man there at the end.
"I love playing grade cricket where my role is to open the batting.
"Craig Simmons the coach just says to go out there and be there at the end pretty much.
"It might be a little bit different when it comes to the World Cup, but I'll still be looking to bat a long time and not give my wicket away easily."
This hunger for runs that Wyllie harbours epitomises that of the plethora of top order batters the Australian U19 squad enjoys. With the likes of Campbell Kellaway, Isaac Higgins and skipper Cooper Connolly also well equipped at opening the innings, the Aussie coaching staff will have a welcome headache when it comes to the side's batting order.
"It's going to be a healthy relationship within the team when you're fighting for positions as it's going to bring the best out of people," Wyllie said.
"We've probably got four or five people who are capable of opening the batting in this side, it's just going to come down to who's best fit for the role come game day.
"If one of us has to bat at four or five, we've played enough cricket over our time to adapt to batting in that position and that circumstance."
Wyllie and his teammates have arrived in the Caribbean and are currently preparing for the first match of the tournament against the hosts, with practice games against India and South Africa to be played in the days leading up to the opener on January 14.