WILL McIntosh was thrown into the deep end — and he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The right-handed opener was just 15 when he was sent out to open for East Albury in first grade provincial cricket.
McIntosh said he just backed himself, backed his technique and the runs started to accumulate.
Three years on and the right-hander has in the past 12 months been part of the NSW under-19 Country team, played for the ACT in the national under-19 championships, was part of the NSW CHS team and now plays a key role for the Crows in their bid to win Cricket Albury Wodonga’s Provincial title.
The former Albury High student said it all started with some mates at Alexandra Park.
“We started in the under-11s, I was always a bit small so I batted a bit and bowled a bit,” McIntosh said.
“I was OK but I was never an absolute star. I played a couple of week one games in first grade when I was 14 but never got to bat.
“When I went up to first grade consistently I was thrown into the deep end and told to open the batting — I just had to back myself to be good enough, back my technique.”
McIntosh, 18, said the past season had been his best in first grade cricket — franked by an unbeaten 129 against reigning premiers Lavington in January.
“There has been a massive improvement in my game in the past year,” he said.
“James McNeil has brought a lot more professionalism to the club and as a result we are much more competitive this season.
“I opened the batting a lot in the past two years because we lacked a bit of depth but this year I’m batting No. 4 or No. 5.
“It’s a change of role but I haven’t changed my game much, I just like to go out there and bat as long as I can, see how many runs I can get.
“I’ve never been a big hitter of the ball, more of a nudger, picking up ones and twos and getting to the other end, batting as long as I can.
“Part of that was I was always a bit small, but in the past year of getting bigger and stronger, I’ve started to develop my stroke play.”
McIntosh said rep cricket, particularly the under-19 titles in Tasmania, had also improved his game.
The 175cm batsman made 75 against Queensland and 55 against the host state among five innings.
“I’ve been exposed to a lot of cricket in the past year with the rep stuff and the more you are exposed to that level of cricket, even if you don’t make runs, it makes you a better player,” he said.
“The national under-19s was the best two weeks of my life, just playing the best in Australia.
“It was probably a slightly higher standard than first grade here just because there is a bit more depth — all the players are good at what they do, it is an exceptional standard across the entire team.
“I would have liked another 50, another score, but at the same time I never expected to make that many runs at a national championships.”
McIntosh’s immediate future is likely to make this his last year with the Crows — a science degree at Melbourne University is likely to see him try his luck in metropolitan grade cricket.
“There are so many people to thank — transporting me to carnivals has been a full-time job for my parents in recent years,” he said.
“Pete Bridle as a junior coach was one of my major influences.
“Then there is the culture.
“Even when we haven’t been competitive, the culture and the people around the club were incredible, they are the best people you would ever meet.
“In some ways it is really sad to leave but one day I’ll come back and give back to the club that has done so much for me.”
This is McIntosh’s first nomination in the Norske Skog Young Achiever of the Year.