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February 13, 2012
Peter Forrest is reaping the benefits of a new state for himself and a new broom for Australian cricket.
Rewarded for his own initiative in moving to a team that welcomed him in Queensland, Forrest is also a living example of the Argus review directives that placed renewed emphasis on rewarding domestic players for performance, and a new selection panel casting its net wide for men of strong character to represent Australia.
After looking at home while making 66 on debut against India in Adelaide, Forrest can expect to keep his squad place for the remainder of the triangular series, and beyond that the West Indies now beckon. It is quite a rise for a man who, like the Test opener Ed Cowan, left New South Wales having never felt assured of his place in the Blues' XI.
"I didn't think I was any chance of playing for Australia this year at all, so thankfully I've performed reasonably well this year and the selectors have rewarded me," Forrest said in Brisbane. "For the players, that's all they can ask - if they perform then they get the opportunity. It is really good for the playing group to know that.
"The way I've played for Queensland this year is just to scrap around and do it my way, so I thought I was going to do that yesterday, and thankfully it paid off. It is a team sport and we needed a win yesterday to continue our momentum, so it was nice to contribute. But it would've been nicer had I got 80-plus or a hundred, and got our side a win."
A popular team man in NSW even though his first-team opportunities were limited, Forrest has carved out a more permanent place at the Gabba, and now has the opportunity to do something similar at international level. Though always technically sound and mentally strong, Forrest's confidence has lifted noticeably.
"It's just the environment [in Queensland], everyone's so happy around here and they're good blokes," Forrest said. "Boof [Darren Lehmann, Bulls coach] has been a major contributing factor, he's been really good not only for the group but me personally and my batting. It just fills you with confidence as well, and when you're confident as a batsman you go out and play the way you want to play.
"I think I am [a better player] now, I've made a few technical changes that have helped this year, but also it is just confidence and knowing you're going to play every game. Playing every game allows you to learn and learning [while] playing first-class cricket is invaluable, so I'd say that's probably the secret at the moment."
At the time of his selection, Forrest's modest domestic limited-overs numbers were trotted out, but he rightly observed that his primary opportunities have so far come in the Sheffield Shield, while the more recent Twenty20 Big Bash League had shown he did not lack for shots.
"I've just had more opportunity in the first-class stuff," he said. "I had limited opportunities in the one-day stuff with NSW and I don't think I played as well as I could in those games, so I like to think I can play all forms of the game. I think the Big Bash League was really good for me this year, allowed me to express myself a little bit and show that I can play the shorter forms."
As for first impressions of the Australian dressing room, Forrest felt welcomed, and was given plenty of strong and positive feedback from the captain Michael Clarke and the coach Mickey Arthur once his first match was completed.
"I felt like my first day of school really when I walked in with Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke and all these superstars around me," Forrest said. "But they're really good - you realise they are good people and real good blokes; they make sure they look after young guys, so I felt right at home after the first five minutes."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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