Bailey bowls them over
Invercargill teen a multiskilled sportsmanBRENDON EGAN
Talented Southland Boys' High School sportsman Bailey Andrews nearly gave cricket away at the start of last summer.
The 16-year-old right-arm medium-fast bowler admits he never took the game seriously and merely played it for a bit of fun.
That all changed when he was selected in the Invercargill Metro team to contest a regional under-16 tournament in Alexandra in December.
Andrews starred with the ball and made such an impression on the talent spotters that he went on to gain selection in the Otago under-16 team to play Canterbury, along with schoolmate Nick McCallum.
If that was not enough, Andrews then capped off the season in style, being named Otago under-16 bowler of the year – which he rated as a massive honour.
"Until Invercargill Metro, I was going to give cricket up. I didn't play it much," Andrews said.
"I was really shocked when I made the Otago under-16 team. I thought (Nick McCallum) was going to be in there, then they called my name. I was pretty shocked."
Andrews' rise to prominence in cricket has been a swift one. He made his debut in the Southland Boys' High first X1 this past summer and said most cricket folk did not even know what he was capable of until he gained representative honours.
"It opened up some of the coaches' eyes. They didn't know much about me," he said.
Andrews described his first game for the Southland Boys' first X1 as "daunting" and remembers bowling to Marist batsman and Southland captain Shaun Fitzgibbon.
Andrews is chiefly known for his bowling, but has the ability of being ambidextrous when batting. He had a go batting left-handed at the regional under-16 tournament, wowing his coaches, and even showed off the skill when he was asked to train with the Southland Hawke Cup team.
"Up at that tournament, I had a go at batting left-handed. I did a bit better than I did right-handed. Shaun (Fitzgibbon) was quite surprised," he said.
Otago under-16 coach Will Deerness recalls seeing Andrews bowl for the first time at the under-16 tournament last year and said he had a wonderful action for someone who had not played much cricket before.
"He looked like a kid with a beautiful wee action and he ran in hard. I was pretty impressed.
"He's got a fairly traditional sort of action. He's not particularly tall, but he can still run in and bowl quick."
Deerness said Andrews was a determined young cricketer who had the potential to improve in the coming years, as he learned more about fast bowling.
"He's a competitive wee bugger. I think that helps. He's a natural athlete. He's got a great attitude and he wants to learn ... You can't fault his work ethic. He wants to do well."
Andrews' sporting skills are not limited to cricket, with the youngster also a more than useful point guard in basketball.
He is in his first season in the Southland Boys' first V and has made rapid progress for someone who picked up basketball only two years ago.
Andrews has mainly been featuring off the bench in the Southland men's A grade basketball competition, but has offered great spark for the team with his hustle and boundless energy.
Southland Boys' first V coach Ray Laurenson said the year 11 student would be an important cog in his team over the coming years.
"I'll build around him over the next couple of years. He's been really good for his first year in the team.
"He's really fit and quick. I use him largely for defence. He's played pretty big minutes for a first-year player. He's capable of hitting shots."
Andrews also dabbled with rugby until earlier this year, when he decided to end his involvement to focus on basketball over the winter months.
Basketball was an ideal way to stay on top of his fitness over the off-season, but Andrews believed his long-term future lay with cricket.
"I think I can go further in cricket than basketball," he said.
Andrews will head away with the Southland Boys' first V to the South Island secondary school basketball championships in Dunedin in September.
His goal with cricket over the summer is to keep developing his bowling and he hopes to crack the Otago under-18 team.
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