Sparks flying with bat and bike
TOM Sparks likes going fast or hitting fast bowling.
The Porepunkah youngster is just as comfortable on two wheels as he is with a cricket bat in his hands.
He is one of several up and coming junior cricketers at Ovens Valley United and currently plays in the club’s combined under 14s side with Beechworth.
Sparks is the team’s second leading run scorer with one half century to his name so far this season and his performances have helped the side to third position on the ladder.
The 13 year-old has also had plenty of exposure to senior cricket playing nine C grade games in the 2016-17 summer and another two this season.
He also plays representative cricket at under 14 level, for the Wangaratta and District Cricket Association, and has showed strong form there, top scoring in the most recent challenge with Shepparton after some good batting in the city versus country game at the end of November.
Sparks recently attended the Chris Rogers Cricket Camp, a three-day clinic held by the former Australian Test batsmen at his parent’s cricket facility in Strath Creek.
The camp offers elite skills training, provided by Rogers and other high-level coaches, for 14-16 year-olds looking to advance their cricket.
One of 23 young cricketers to take part, Sparks was also just one of two players from WDCA ranks, and he said it was a great experience.
“It was good, we got oneon-one coaching and did a lot of different cricket drills and activities,” Sparks said.
“We worked on technique and a lot of things to try and improve our overall game.”
Sparks just missed out on making the North East Knights under 14 squad to play in the Victorian Pathway Championships in January.
He will however line-up in Country Week against teams from Cricket Albury Wodonga and Wagga.
“I’ve played rep cricket for the last two years now which I’ve enjoyed,” Sparks said.
“I’ve also started wicketkeeping with the team too and have been going pretty good.
“It’s good getting to play and I think I find rep cricket and C grade a bit easier because the bowlers are a bit quicker and I like the challenge.”
When the Wangaratta Cathedral College student isn’t playing cricket, he spends his winter riding motorbikes and playing football for the Bright Junior Football Club.
Sparks began riding at age three and started racing motocross at age seven, but now races enduro in the Victoria Off Road Championship.
“I switched to enduro because I didn’t enjoy motocross as much having grown up riding in the hills and the bush,” Sparks said.
“I raced 85cc this year and finished third in my class and move up to 125cc next year.
“I missed a few games of footy because I was racing motorbikes but I’m lucky I can do all three sports for most of the year.”