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August 13, 2012
Harry Conway looks more imposing than the average Under-19 cricketer in this World Cup. He's 6' 5", has a muscular body, a shock of neck-length hair, and a considerable beard. He wears zinc like Craig McDermott did. He couldn't be much else apart from a fast bowler. Conway did not play against England on Friday, but in the absence of Joel Paris and Mark Steketee, he got his chance against Nepal and hit the off-stump three times in a row to celebrate it.
"The first one was bowled, the second one was bowled and the third one was bowled as well," he said and broke into a grin. "The last couple, they hit the top of off, so I was really happy with those two, and the first one I hit off stump as well.
"I have taken [a hat-trick before]. I took one last year in a grade game back in Sydney but not in a game as big as this so it was amazing to do it out there."
Conway had to wait between wickets two and three, though. He bowled Pradeep Airee and Naresh Budayair off the last two balls of the fourth over, with full deliveries that angled into the right-handers before straightening to beat the bat. Conway spent Gurinder Sandhu's second over on the boundary, talking to McDermott, who's working with Australia's Under-19 bowlers.
"He said that [the] second one was a really good one so if I can do that again then I have every chance of getting another one," Conway said. He did exactly that, beating the outside edge of Prithu Baskota's bat with a full ball that shaped away and went off on an expressive celebratory run.
Conway, who's got a rookie contract with New South Wales, said working with McDermott for eight weeks at the Australian Institute of Sport had improved his bowling significantly. "Without Craig's help, I wouldn't have been able to bowl the way I did today. I was bowling a lot shorter and a lot wider. He has helped tighten me up, bowl straighter, fuller and on a four-stump line. He has done a few little things with my run-up and my front arm as well. Those things are all helping me bowl a lot straighter and a lot fuller as well. That's the end goal."
Before Conway jolted Nepal's top order, Australia's total of 294 had been set up by their opening batsman Cameron Bancroft, who made 125 off 139 balls. The stand-out feature of his innings was the way he paced it - slow at first, steady through the middle, and quick at the end. He was not tempted into unnecessary attack because of the weaker opposition, nor was he influenced by the approach of his more aggressive partners, Jamie Peirson and Kurtis Patterson.
"I didn't get any runs in the last two knocks that I have had so it was nice to get out there and get a big score," Bancroft, who also has a rookie contract with Western Australia, said. "Slow start, but it was good to increase the tempo as it went along so it felt good out there."
Bancroft hit only one boundary in his first 110 deliveries but finished with seven fours and two sixes after taking advantage of the fielding restrictions during the batting Powerplay. He said all he had done was "stick to the plan and back yourself."
"My role in the team is to bat 50 overs and if I can do that, then I am doing the best job for my team," he said. "I'll leave the big hitting to guys like James Peirson and Kurtis Patterson. I'll just knock them around, that's my role.
"I showed towards the end of the innings that I am able to hit a big ball and score quickly and up the ante. It's something that I've just got to keep progressing in my game and maybe bring out earlier in my innings."
Bancroft said the workout he had against Nepal's spinners, who bowled 29 overs in all, would help him later in the tournament, when he could face spinners from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. "Nepal had good spinners out there today. They bowled really well. I haven't been playing spin well the last few games so that's something to work on. But what I am able to do is I'm able to not get bogged down, I can still turn the strike over and get singles, so that's something I'm improving all the time."
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