Luck of Irish pays off for St Patrick’s

MARK Butters was determined.

Soon after signing as coach of St Patrick’s, the paceman started putting the feelers out for a recruit to bolster the Patties’ top-order.

He looked locally and interstate but came up empty handed.

Butters then took it a step further and touched base with a contact he had made while playing for Holywood Cricket Club in Northern Ireland in 2010.

Within months, Jason van der Merwe was playing at Xavier High School.

“I played in Northern Ireland a few years ago and thought I would put a post on a forum to see if there was any interest,” Butters said.

“I know a guy Jason played with as well and things just went from there.

“It’s reasonable cricket and we thought we would go a bit left of centre.

“Jason’s been good. The young guys have taken to him and I think he’s taken to them as well.

“It’s been a good result for everyone.”

Van der Merwe, 21, hasn’t disappointed with the bat or ball.

He has 305 runs at 50 and eight wickets at 26 with the right-hander thriving on the opportunity to play on fast, bouncy Australian wickets.

The most pleasing thing is van der Merwe made his highest score — 114 — in a pressure-cooker environment against flag contender Wodonga.

“It’s brilliant here,” he said.

“The sun is shining and they are good batting tracks.

“They are a bit slower back home.

“I have had a decent start and hopefully I can carry on and make a few scores.

“It’s a good standard and very competitive.”

Van der Merwe, who was born in South Africa and moved to Ireland when he was 10, had his first taste of cricket in Australia last August when he played in the World Cup under-19s in Brisbane and Townsville.

He is confident the sport is growing in his homeland.

“It’s getting bigger all the time,” he said.

“You see a lot more overseas players coming over and more money from the ICC is coming in.

“There are more coaches getting around coaching kids as well.”

The Civil Service North recruit is optimistic St Patrick’s are also warming to the task after a slow start to the Cricket Albury-Wodonga season.

Since dropping games to Wodonga and New City, the Patties have hit back strongly and face ladder leader Tallangatta today.

“We didn’t have the best start but have won our last four,” he said.

It’s brilliant here. The sun is shining and they are good batting tracks. They are a bit slower back home. I have had a decent start and hopefully I can carry on and make a few scores. It’s a good standard and very competitive. — Jason van der Merwe

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