She may be known as cricket's quiet achiever but there is plenty of positive noise surrounding 15-year-old Sara Burns.
The daughter of well-respected Burrumbuttock sportsman Lyle Burns, she's already played for three different grades at Lavington this season and is tackling Victorian Premier Cricket with Carlton.
Part of the NSW academy this year, Burns has also been picked to represent Victoria at under-16 level.
She finished the year with 57 for the Panthers' under-16s, sharing a mammoth 174-run partnership with Eddy Schultheis (103) in their Division 1 victory over Wodonga Raiders.
"It was hard because it was pretty humid out there," Burns said.
"We got sledged a fair bit, just about every ball, but I just try to get it out of my head and think of something else.
"It feels really good to be out there in the middle. The ball gets easier to play the longer you're out there.
"I've been learning how to play spin and dancing down a bit more.
"It's been a bit of a challenge but I'm getting there."
Burns and Schultheis, who's now a fixture in Lavington's A-grade side, train together regularly.
"Sarz respects Eddy very highly," her mother Tammy said. "Eddy's just the quietest so you can imagine him and Sara training together.
"They say 'hello' and bowl and bat to each other for two hours and they might say 'good shot' to each other.
"It's like sitting in a church, you don't get 'boo' out of either of them."
COVID hasn't stopped Burns training, even when she's been unable to get to Melbourne's Junction Oval for weekly sessions.
"Dad's my biggest supporter and he's really helped me to get to this point," she said.
"We set up the bowling machine in the shearing shed and the dogs are the fielders.
"There was no local cricket and Lavington was the closest club so that's why I went there.
"I've been with that group for four years now and they welcomed me from the start. They've been great ever since."
Riverina women's academy head coach Catherine Wood has witnessed Burns' progress first-hand.
"Sara's a quiet achiever and she listens really well," Wood said.
"She's a left-handed batter so it's a little bit different to see in the girls game but it's very handy to change the strike over and get everyone thinking about their game more.
"She hits the ball quite well and she definitely has potential to go far.
"Her father Lyle was a very good cricketer and had represented Riverina in the past. He played for Burrumbuttock, so I knew him when I was growing up, playing cricket and had a few tussles with him. He was an amazing bowler and could bat as well.
"Sara's an only child and has taken her Dad's love for the game on board. She loves the game and is coming along very nicely."
ALSO IN SPORT
Meanwhile, two of Burns' Riverina team-mates have been selected to play for ACT/NSW Country against NSW Metro, VIC Metro and VIC Country in Albury later this month.
Alice Caldow, from Hay, is a gritty left-arm bowler who captained Riverina in the under-16 state championships.
"She did an absolutely amazing job," Wood said.
"She came to the carnival thinking about all her players and where she should be setting fields and she thought it more than I would have given her credit for. She was outstanding and she can also swing the willow so she's a very handy player."
Wagga's Perri Nash, the grand-daughter of highly-regarded coach Warren Smith, has also made the team.
"Perri definitely has pedigree," Wood said.
"She's a fantastic leg-spin bowler, played with the Bullets this year and had a great opportunity there under Jodie Hicks.
"Both girls are backing up in the under-19s too."
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