Albury's Ross Pawson is one step closer to realising his dream of playing Sheffield Shield cricket.
The 26-year-old former Lavington paceman took part in a NSW Blues intra-club match this week which also featured Australian internationals Nathan Lyon, Sean Abbott, Peter Nevill and state captain Kurtis Patterson.
Rain brought the match at Sydney's Hurstville Oval to a premature end but selection was hugely encouraging for Pawson.
"Last week I sent a text message to Michael Klinger, the head of male cricket at Cricket NSW," he revealed.
"My plan was to tell him that I'm keen, fit and if there was an opportunity to be part of anything, that I'd love to do it.
"The timing was pretty good because they were putting together their teams for practice matches and he asked me to come and play.
"I'm not usually the type to do something like that but based on conversations I've had with a few people around, that's the way things operate.
"You've got to get them talking about you and if your timing's right, like mine was last week, you start to get opportunities."
Pawson was already involved in the ACT underage pathway during his time with the Panthers and continued playing grade cricket in Canberra when he left the Border to start university.
After three years playing first grade for Ginnindera, Pawson relocated to Sydney after taking a job in the sports department at Knox Grammar School.
He worked his way into the first grade at Northern District and received the Bill North Memorial Award for Club Person of the Year in 2019/20.
"I've been there or thereabouts for a while," he said.
"Last season, I trained a fair bit with the Blues and played a few second XI games towards the back end of the year. I'd never played second XI before so to hold my own, that gave me a lot of confidence.
"It was very encouraging to be able to get a run. They've got a few more practice matches scheduled in for the next week-and-a-half so hopefully there will be another chance for me."
Pawson was last clocked at 133kph but he now feels the ball's coming out of his hand even better.
"I'm coming into that time where I can bowl quicker for longer," he said.
"I feel like I'm through all of the niggly bony injuries that sometimes a fast bowler gets through their early-to-mid-twenties. My body's hardened and I know my body a lot better now.
"I'm a lot stronger and I feel like I'm coming into the best years. Fast bowlers are often at their best in their late twenties to early thirties so I'm coming into that window now.
"The fact that I've worked my way into that set-up and gone OK in those second XI games, I've still got improvement in me and I can definitely push for a spot somewhere along the line.
"I'm leaving no stone unturned and I'm just trying to see what I can make of it while I can still do it."
ALSO IN SPORT
While the weather denied Pawson the chance to bowl this week, there was still plenty to be gained from his time at the ground.
"It was nice, during the rain break, to pick the brains of guys like Trent Copeland and Chris Tremain," he said.
"That was really valuable and it was great to be in the sheds with those boys.
"I'd bought myself a long set of spikes this week and never used them in my shoes before so I was sat there chatting to those two about where they put them in their shoes and when they would use them.
"It's not even about bowling, per se, it's more about using your equipment and using those little extra things. I found it quite interesting and valuable because I wouldn't normally get a chance to ask a professional bowler those questions.
"Listening to them talk about the upcoming Big Bash this summer, it was great to be a part of that."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: