COBDEN Cricket Club’s English import Matt Smalley-Harris is hoping he can help his side return the top four of South West Cricket’s division one competition.
The 21 year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, who hails from Buckinghamshire in England’s south east, arrived in Australia last week, eager to push the Knights up the ladder and wanting to play a key role with the bat and behind the stumps.
“I hope that we can have a good season, hopefully we’ll get close to the top four and get into those finals positions,” Smalley-Harris said.
“The lads have been telling me it’s been a while for Cobden, so hopefully I can have an impact on the field and get us close to finals.
“Hopefully I can help with a few dismissals and bring some runs to the table as well.
“You know getting the team off to some good starts and try to kick on from there and just really strengthen the batting line-up a bit.”
Smalley-Harris knows bits and pieces about the league, with his new team-mates providing him with knowledge of opposition clubs.
He understands there are some strong teams in the competition and it is mostly 50 over games, which he said would not be an issue given his previous club Boxmoor played the same format.
However, Smalley-Harris will have to make one major adjustment to Aussie conditions, having not played a game on a synthetic wicket for over a decade.
“I haven’t played a game on synthetic since I was about 10 because in England it’s just not very common,” he said.
“Every club has a grass wicket, it’s part of the culture I think, so it’ll be interesting (playing on synthetic again)
“I’ve obviously been having a few nets (sessions), a few hits, it will take me a little bit to get used to it, see what it’s like and adjust to the bounce a little bit.
“But hopefully it won’t take me too long to figure out.”
As for his own club and team-mates, Smalley-Harris has come to know “that it’s quite a community-based club”.
“You know all the lads have been really good, they’ve sort of explained it to me that it’s just a lot of lads that really want to have fun together and play some cricket together during the summer,” he said.
“They’re all really eager to do well and play well. They know their limitations, but the club has some exciting players and some good guys.
“Everyone seems to be a really good bloke.”
Smalley-Harris has quickly settled in to his new surroundings, taking up residency with Knights skipper Johno Benallack just a lofted cover drive from the cricket ground.
He said Cobden had so far been as he expected, adding everyone had welcomed him with open arms.
“It’s pretty similar to what I expected,” he said.
“It’s not massively different from where I live back home so I sort of knew what to expect and the lads had all told me about what was around.
“It was just excitement once I got on the plane, I just wanted to get and get going. I’m really glad I’m over here now.
“Everyone has been really good to me from the minute I got here, I’m hoping the weather picks up but the first week or so has been really good.”