I was in the first year of my apprenticeship with Western Power [a major utility company in Perth]. It was a bit of a shock because I'd pretty much thought my cricket days were numbered. I think Western Australia had had a bit of a habit over the year or two previous of wanting to pick 18-19-year-old kids and giving them a bit of a crack. I was just lucky that Justin Langer came in and he wanted to reward blokes from grade cricket.
"I go out to bat now and I'm facing some 15-year-old kid who feels quick. Yet it was only six or seven years ago that I was facing some of the quickest bowlers in the world"
I do and it's fair enough. You look at the Scorchers team and we had some really good batsmen. It's like any team - you probably put your energy into the top three or four players who you think are probably going to win you the game, and the other guys you probably can gloss over at times. And yeah, I was lucky they didn't put any or much effort into me, and it paid off, that's for sure.
It was awesome. I haven't played at the new stadium [Perth Stadium], but the WACA was huge. The atmosphere there was amazing. It was a really parochial crowd, 20,000 felt like 50,000 and once you starting hitting a few out of the middle, the crowd did get up. I remember when I hit that six to bring up the hundred, the crowd noise was huge. And it was a pretty big thrill.
Literally, once I got to about 40, I was just in that zone of trying to hit every ball for six. That was my thought. I don't know why I did that. You probably don't do that as a bat, but I felt like I was seeing them that well by then that I was looking to try and clear the rope every ball. And even good balls, they were still going for four or one or two. It was just one of those days where everything sort of went my way. Certainly don't have too many of them as a batsman that's for sure.
After every game they would have a bit of a chat. Pump up the blokes that had done well or whatever. I remember quite fondly because he was like, "Simmo, you scored a hundred on the skinfolds yesterday, you scored a hundred on the scales today, and you scored a hundred with the bat, so it was good to bring up the 300!" I certainly wasn't in my physical peak playing, so the guys had a bit of a laugh.
Yeah, I always cherish that one more. The first one was literally just an all-out attack with really not much pressure. It's just a pool game, go out there and try your luck. The semi-final, I remember it, it was really tough work early. The ball was swinging a bit and the wicket was a little bit tacky, and I think I might have been six off 16 balls - so I certainly took my time. I copped a bit of stick from the Sixers players about how slow I was going, but again I was lucky enough to have blokes like Simon Katich and Adam Voges down the other end, and they're always pretty free-scoring players, so they took a bit of pressure [off].
I do, and I certainly let blokes know who was bowling! I go out to bat now and I'm facing some 15-year-old kid who feels quick. Yet it was only six or seven years ago that I was facing some of the quickest bowlers in the world. I definitely look back on it very fondly. And again, on that day, I didn't really feel troubled after that first six overs. It was a pretty special achievement for me, that one.
"At this stage of my career I can do well with the ball without having to put in as much yards. Whereas with the batting side of it, I think once you start to get a little bit older, it does get a little bit harder"
It definitely helped. I was around for a long time and just not playing much cricket. I was lucky enough to be at New South Wales and get to work with blokes like Simon Katich, Michael Clarke, and some of Australia's best cricketers when they were around for New South Wales.
We had a really good group of guys there and the Perth cricket community really needed a title. I think they lost the first two BBL finals. We were under a fair bit of pressure to do well, and everyone was really hungry to do well. You look at most of the players in that side and there are a fair few guys that represented Australia a fair bit.
I didn't at all, to be honest. I was 32-33. I was really happy with the job I had and still do now. I really enjoy my work for Western Power.
It was really hard. My preference would definitely have been to stay with the Scorchers, but the financial differences were just ridiculous - like, it was six times the amount of money. You don't play for the money but as a 33-year-old that has put 14-15 years of effort into trying to play cricket, it was just a time where I thought, well, it's probably my time to get a little back from the game I love. Yeah, I made that decision. It probably didn't work out as well as I would have liked but I still had a pretty fun three years in Adelaide. I got to meet some pretty good people and have a bit of fun over there as well.
I'll play for as long as I can. For me it's not necessarily just about playing first grade or second grade, I just enjoy playing cricket. If it means next year I'm playing third grade or fourth grade down the track, it's not something that really worries me, because I think for a club, if you can get older guys to keep playing and pass on experience to the younger guys, it's only going to help them. It's probably something that I encountered as a young guy, when it felt like every team you played against had three or four really experienced blokes that made your life really hard. So I'm definitely not going to leave our young blokes in the same state, by leaving them without any experience.
"My preference would definitely have been to stay with the Scorchers, but the financial differences were just ridiculous - like, it was six times the amount of money"
To be honest, I prefer bowling. Because at this stage of my career I can do well with the ball without having to put in as much yards. Whereas with the batting side of it, I think once you start to get a little bit older, it does get a little bit harder. I definitely prefer being classed as a bowler, and it takes the pressure off your batting. I go out and play with a fair bit of freedom these days, which is good.
I think there definitely needs to be an emphasis on grade cricket. WA went through it where they really didn't value grade cricket and people did lose a bit of faith in the system. People dropped off. Performances weren't being rewarded. I think if they can really keep that focus on, reward blokes from one level, play 2nd XI, then reward that and go forward. I think that's really the best way to go about it.
It will always be the Scorchers for me. The Strikers was good fun and it was a good little payday, I suppose, but I'm a really parochial WA supporter in Shield cricket, one-day cricket, and the Scorchers. I'm really keen to see them do well.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne