Jacob Duffy's biggest cricket challenge
While most Southland cricketers have hidden their cricket gear in the corner of the gar age for winter, Jacob Duffy hasn't let up.
The 17-year-old new ball bowler is bracing himself to take on his biggest cricket challenge to date.
Duffy will leave Invercargill on Monday bound for Australia, where he will compete in the under-19 cricket World Cup as part of the New Zealand team.
The Southland Boys' High School year-13 pupil had a massive 2011-12 season, which included making his HRV Cup Twenty20 debut for the Otago Volts, also playing his first first-class match for the Volts and playing for New Zealand in an international quadrangular under-19 tournament in Townsville.
That tournament, which included Australia, England and India, finished in April, and while Duffy got a couple of weeks' break from the game, it did not take long for him to be back training in the leadup to the under-19 World Cup, which starts next month.
He said given most cricketers hibernated during the winter and it had been been hard to find people to bowl to in the indoor centre at Queens Park.
He was lucky to have his elder brother Ryan, who is a fellow Southland and Otago A representative, home during university holidays recently and he padded up for the training.
He also spent a week of his own school holidays in Christchurch training, where eight of the New Zealand under-19 World Cup squad are based, as well as coach Paul Wiseman.
The youngster said it had been difficult putting the work during the winter months, when most people were not thinking about cricket, but it was all worth it.
"I don't mind, because I know I've got to play cricket in August and I've got a goal in mind. When you go to cricket training when it's snowing outside, it makes it a bit harder to get up for," he said yesterday.
"This week I've got to bowl 30 something overs. I'm sure who I'm going to do it to."
The thought of heading into a World Cup, Duffy admitted, was pretty exciting and the experience of playing in the quadrangular tournament in April against India, England and Australia had put him in a good mindset.
"It was a good experience. You know what to expect now. We went into that not having a clue what's out there. We were thinking that these Indian and Aussie teams could be invincible, but we've proven that we're up there with them. Especially with the conditions, we know what to expect now too."
The New Zealand team will head to Brisbane on Tuesday, where they will have a week of training, before playing four lead-in games before the tournament starts.
They will play their first World Cup game against Scotland on August 12 on the Sunshine Coast in Australia.
They will then play Pakistan and Afghanistan to round out their pool games, with the hope of progressing through to the top eight section of the quarter-finals.
The top two teams from each pool will head into the Super quarter-finals, while the other two will play off in the plate quarter-finals.
The World Cup final will be played on August 26.
After Duffy returns, he will have a small break, before getting back into action for the New Zealand summer, when the teenager is expected to feature prominently for the Volts.
New Zealand six major associations are currently working through their domestic contracts list at present and it would be a surprise if Duffy did not feature on the Volts list when they are released.
- © Fairfax NZ News