Chris Hartley wiped away tears of joy to deliver the best ever first-class debut by an Australian wicketkeeper and propel Queensland to a massive win against South Australia today.
Hartley, 21, scored 103 in a record seventh-wicket stand with Ashley Noffke, who scored 114 not out, before taking a breathtaking overhead catch to set up the victory by an innings and 137 runs at the Gabba. Hartley's remarkable allround performance surely put him down as a Test player of the future.
Waiting three years in the wings behind Wade Seccombe, Hartley was overcome by emotion when he was presented with his maroon cap by childhood hero Ian Healy before the match. "To get the baggy maroon from `Heals' himself, I wasn't expecting it," he said. "It's just special talking to the guy."
Built similarly to Healy, Hartley has already been courted by two rival states and his potential value will have rocketed after his dramatic debut. But despite knowing his Christmas "gift" will be to return to the seconds with Seccombe coming back from Australia A, Hartley will steadfastly bide his time in Brisbane.
Regarded by Seccombe as a sure national representative in the future, Hartley continues the long production line of distinguished Queensland keepers from Don Tallon and Wally Grout to Healy and Seccombe.
On top of his five-hour 103, including 15 boundaries, Hartley put up an impeccable display behind the stumps with four catches, including a sensational snare to remove Greg Blewett. A talented footballer who shifted his focus to cricket when told by a coach he was too small to cut it in football, he leapt high and to the left to take an edged hook on the tips of his gloves.
"That's just the best three days of cricket I've ever had, ever," he said. "To be fortunate enough to get a hundred and keep very well topped it off."
Hartley was only the second wicketkeeper to make a century on debut, and the first since Roy Levy hit 129 for Queensland against Victoria in 1926-27.