Academy camp fuels self-belief in young fast bowler
THEY may be larger-than-life characters, but the real-life stature of Australian cricket stars Michael Clarke and David Warner has given young fast bowler Jack Baxter hope.
Rockhampton Grammar School students Baxter and Lachlan Knuth took the opportunity to size up two of the world's best batsmen in Sydney last weekend.
Baxter, 14, and Knuth, 16, were two of 24 fortunate young cricketers who attended the inaugural Michael Clarke Cricket Academy training camp in Sydney during the school holidays.
Both specialist bowlers, Baxter and Knuth got advice from Clarke, his father Les Clarke, former Australian spinner Beau Casson and former Australian Southern Stars pair Lisa Sthalekar and Rachael Haynes.
While in camp, the cricketers went on a tour through the Sydney Cricket Ground and had the opportunity to meet Warner and fellow Australian Test cricketer Nathan Lyon, who were training with the New South Wales team at the ground.
The diminutive Baxter, who is extremely effective as a right-arm pace bowler despite his height, gained plenty of confidence out of the meeting with his idols, who were not much taller than him.
Clarke's Cricket Australia profile lists him at 178cm while Warner stands at 171cm.
"Michael Clarke was really good," Baxter said.
"He talked to us all a fair bit and helped me improve.
"Michael Clarke and David Warner are really short - they're not that much taller than me," Baxter said.
Along with plenty of tips to improve their game, the pair returned to Rockhampton last week with a kit bag full of cricket gear from Clarke's sponsors, Spartan.
Selected from 400 applicants, Baxter and Knuth attended the four-day camp held at Scots College, Bellevue Hill, where they were put through their paces during intense training and education sessions.
Baxter said they were put through daily gym and fitness sessions, onfield skills sessions including nets, centre wicket and outfield training, and expert seminars on cricketing tactics, nutrition, and positive mindsets.
Initially it was thought Clarke would only be at the camp for one day, but Baxter said the Australian Test captain had a hands-on approach at the camp and was keen to offer plenty of advice.
"He was there a lot of the time and he was giving us tips on everything," Baxter said.
"We went through a lot of different things from net sessions to dieting and fitness."
The camp finished with a 50-over match on the penultimate day, which was unfortunately rained out halfway through.