Rocky indoor cricketer wins sixth World Cup title
INDOOR CRICKET: The Australian open men's team has won 10 straight World Cups and Rockhampton's Robert Fitzgerald has played in more than half of them.
The 34-year-old, who is Australia's longest-serving player, claimed his sixth title as the Aussies again dominated at the international tournament in Dubai.
They went through the competition undefeated and comfortably accounted for New Zealand in the final, winning by 46 runs.
There was more good news to come for Fitzgerald who, for the first time in his six Cup appearances, was named in the honorary World Eight.
"It was a bit of a surprise and a little bit overwhelming,” he said.
"It's feels good to be recognised as one of the better players at a tournament.
"I've been in very successful sides since I started playing for Queensland. When you have a lot of success as a team individuals don't always get recognised because they are all so good.
"This is the first time I've been named in the World Eight and it is an honour.”
Fitzgerald's love of cricket was engendered at an early age.
"My mum and dad played a lot of indoor cricket so I went to the Indoor Sports Arena all the time.
"When they were playing, I would get out on a spare court and have a bowl by myself.
"I was a cricket nut even then.”
Given no junior cricket was played in his primary school years, Fitzgerald embraced the outdoor form of the game, joining the Parkana Cricket Club as a 10-year-old.
A handy medium-paced bowler, he found his way into the indoor game as soon as he was eligible to play and success quickly followed.
"When I was 16 I was fortunate enough to make my first-ever Queensland team - the under-18s in 1999.
"Ever since then, I've played for Queensland at the national championships.”
Fitzgerald was named as a shadow for the Australian open men in 2002 and the following year, was selected in the Australian team for a five-match series against England.
He has been a fixture in the green and gold ever since.
Rep duties have taken him around the world but Fitzgerald has fond memories of playing in Sri Lanka.
He says his greatest achievement on court came in the grand final of last year's national championships, where he bowled the Queenslanders to victory by taking three wickets in the last over of the game.
Fitzgerald loves the non-stop action of indoor cricket.
"You're always active; every ball something is happening.
"I really enjoy the thrill of getting out there and being in the thick of the action.
"You also need to be good at every aspect of the game - batting, bowling and fielding - and I feel I contribute in each of those areas.”
While it is a physically demanding game, Fitzgerald is constantly working on the mental side of things.
"The game is 20% skill and 80% in the mind.
"I'd have to say I've got a strong mental game. I've had to to continue playing at the highest level for the last 15 years.
"I'm 34 now so I'm ticking towards the end of my rep career. I don't know if I've played my last game for Australia or not.
"I love playing the game and at this stage I want to continue playing at the highest level possible.”