Wodonga youngster Will Ashton didn't know what hit him when he faced Riverina speedster Jarryd Hatton in the first round of Cricket Albury-Wodonga provincial.
"That was a bit of an eye-opener, I've never faced someone that quick before," he replied when quizzed if he had ever come across a bowler, the likes of which he had never previously faced.
That was a bit of an eye-opener, I've never faced someone that quick before. I just tried to keep it simple, keep watching the ball, keep my backswing shorter and always backing myself.- Will Ashton on Jarryd Hatton
"I just tried to keep it simple, keep watching the ball, keep my backswing shorter and always backing myself."
The 16-year-old did open the innings in four of his five first grade games last season, but a player capable of slinging them down at 130kms-plus is a different proposition.
Perhaps the greatest sign of Ashton's development is that he didn't wilt in the face of adversity.
In fact, he posted his highest first grade score with an unbeaten 52 in the T20 clash.
It was also his first T20 game since joining Wodonga from Wangaratta and District the previous year.
"It definitely helps having (Riverina rep) Tom Johnson at the other end, for me it was about getting ones and getting Tom on strike, he can take any bowler to the fence, but I'll still try to hit the fence when the right ball is there," he offered.
"I can go at a run a ball, but I'm probably more of a nudger, hit the gaps."
Ashton's improvement was highlighted on Thursday when selected for his highest honours in Victoria Country under 17s.
"It's pretty exciting, it will be good to play with the best kids around the state," he suggested.
Rep team-mate Jack Stewart (Wodonga Raiders) played for Vic Country's under 15 national championship-winning team two seasons ago.
"Jack bats and bowls really well, he's a medium-pacer or pace bowler and an outstanding bat," Ashton praised.
The pair will play Vic Metro, a combined Victoria outfit and South Australia in Bendigo next month.
The right-hand opening bat simply forced his way into the State level by sheer weight of runs.
He has an insatiable appetite for the game, hitting thousands of balls in practice over winter, and has been rewarded at both rep and club level.
"It's been a bit different to last year, I only played a handful of first grade games and this year I've been in the side consistently, I'm loving it," he explained.
Ashton doesn't have an obvious weakness and for a young player, is strong on both sides of the wicket.
"I love facing spin, it's one of my strengths, I feel like I've got a good sweep shot as well," he revealed.
CAW enters the second phase of its season on Saturday with the 50-over matches.
There's been 11 scheduled T20 rounds and while rounds four, five and six were largely washed out - with only two matches completed of a possible 15 - CAW has had more cricket than most associations.
Wodonga hosts New City, while in the other games, Corowa is home to Wodonga Raiders, Lavington hosts St Patrick's, East Albury is home to North Albury and Albury travels to Belvoir.
ALSO IN SPORT
The ladder is: North 57, Albury 45, Wodonga 33, Corowa 33, East 33, Lavington 30, St Pat's 27, Belvoir 24, Raiders 18, Tallangatta 18, New City 12.
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