However, after three seasons of, at times, some very good but generally inconsistent performances (mostly in the second team), I was told I was no longer needed by the county, as I hadn’t done enough and there were some excellent young players coming through.
Being told your lifestyle and dreams are being taken away from you, is an incredibly hard thing to comprehend. However, I was able to accept the news and be okay with it, when Angus Fraser, Middlesex’s Director of Cricket, called me into his office in September 2012.
PLAYING WITHOUT PRESSURE
A year before losing my contract, I’d been playing the best cricket of my life. In between the 2011 and 2012 English seasons, I came back to Perth and played grade cricket for Melville CC. With my Middlesex contract in my back pocket, I didn’t have to worry about ‘trying to make it’ into the Western Australian side, which had always been a goal of mine since moving to Perth, five years earlier. This meant I had no ‘pressure’ to do well.
When I say ‘pressure,’ it was all coming from within. There were no external expectations. My parents weren’t pushing me to achieve things on the cricket field, unlike what many young athletes go through. All the ‘pressure’ was from my own mind and thoughts, which restricted me from playing with freedom.
Over the year or so prior to this Aussie season, I’d made some technical changes that started to ‘click’ and I began to trust my game. An improved technique, combined with playing with freedom, meant I finished with the most runs in the WACA 1st grade competition – 819 runs in 13 innings, at an average of 81.9. I scored three centuries and had a highest score of 182 (not out) and came third in the Best and Fairest award in the competition, despite missing the first two games of the season. I also played a second XI match for WA at the end of that season.
So when I got the news that my Middlesex contract wasn’t going to be renewed, I felt okay, as I was thinking, “I was the best batter in the WACA comp last year. l’ll go back to Perth and do well again and break into the WA side.” However, that never happened. With the ‘pressure’ back on to do well, despite scoring three hundreds that season (within a couple of weeks of each other), I wasn’t able to get back to the form of the previous season and went back to being a grade battler, who had some good days here and there.