Hamp­son in top job

Monto bat­ter-keeper at the helm

Central and North Burnett Times - - YOUR BACKYARD -

SAFE HANDS: Monto born and bred Tony Hamp­son has been se­lected in the Queens­land Coun­try Cricket team.

WHACK­ING an old ball tied to a tree and run­ning after horses was the good, hon­est train­ing sched­ule crick­eter Tony Hamp­son stuck to as a kid.

And it seems to have paid off, with the Monto-raised bat­ter-keeper named cap­tain of the Queens­land Brah­mans for the Aus­tralian Coun­try Cham­pi­onships tour­na­ment in Bendigo next month.

“I started pre­par­ing the day after I found out I was cap­tain,” Hamp­son said.

“This is my fifth year in the squad, but my first time as cap­tain. We want to win!”

The first step to suc­cess is fos­ter­ing good team spirit, and Hamp­son has al­ready started get­ting to know the rest of his side.

“The aim is when we get to camp on Jan­uary 1, ev­ery­one knows each other. It makes it less awk­ward and ev­ery­one can fo­cus on their role in the team,” he said.

As well as look­ing after the team, Hamp­son aims to lead by ex­am­ple with his own per­for­mance.

He is the wicket keeper and bats at num­ber seven but de­spite th­ese sim­i­lar­i­ties to leg­endary Aus­tralian crick­eter Adam Gilchrist, his style of play is dif­fer­ent.

“I’m not as ex­plo­sive as Gilly,” he said.

“I don’t ar­rive at the crease full guns blaz­ing.

“My favourite shot would be the cut shot.

“I like to hit one early on in the mid­dle of the bat, and then I know ev­ery­thing’s work­ing.”

While he doesn’t mind fac­ing spin bowl­ing, the care­ful bats­man said a short ball was the one he feared the most.

“I don’t like play­ing a hook shot early,” Hamp­son said.

“Three or four years ago I would have said play­ing off my legs was a weak­ness, but I’ve worked hard on that now and I think I’ve got it cov­ered.”

The life-long cricket nut has been keep­ing ever since his dad threw him the gloves dur­ing ju­nior cricket in Monto.

“We all ro­tated in those days, but as I got older my mates started to fo­cus more on their bat­ting and bowl­ing and I was al­ways the back-up keeper. I started out be­ing more of a bats­man,” he said.

“But then as I got older

Tony Hamp­son I started pre­par­ing the day after I found out...

my keep­ing is what was get­ting me into teams. It’s com­pet­i­tive though, there’s only one in a side.”

Stay­ing ahead of the pack comes down to fit­ness and the Townsville-based ath­lete spends a lot of time do­ing squats at the gym, run­ning and cy­cling.

“It’s lots of spe­cific train­ing, like do­ing weights but in a spe­cific mo­tion for cricket,” he said.

“Squats are good be­cause that’s a mo­tion you do a lot when you’re keep­ing.

“I also do a lot of core work be­cause bal­ance is the key. It gives a lot of con­trol, es­pe­cially for bat­ting.”

The Aus­tralian Coun­try Cham­pi­onships are a semi-pro­fes­sional event; the ath­letes don’t get paid but they don’t have to pay for any­thing ei­ther.

“It’s like be­ing a pro­fes­sional for two weeks. You just eat, breathe and sleep cricket,” Hamp­son said.

“We are very pro­fes­sional in the way we pre­pare and we have ice-baths and proper warm-ups.”

But the crick­et­ing fo­cus is not likely to be much of a change for Hamp­son, who ad­mits he has “pretty much lived cricket” ever since he was a kid and even now works full time as a re­gional de­vel­op­ment man­ager for Queens­land Cricket.

“It was a big com­mit­ment be­ing from Monto though and my fam­ily were so sup­port­ive. Our home game was in Biggen­den, so we of­ten had to travel fur­ther for our home game than the away teams,” he said.

“But dad built nets at home and my cousin Craig would al­ways be com­ing around to bowl to me.

“My pop lived only 2km up the road and his back­yard was the place for many a cricket bat­tle!”

Teams from all Aus­tralian States as well as an Asia-Pa­cific team will play two two-day matches; a one-day match and a Twenty20 match dur­ing the Jan­uary 5-12 Aus­tralian Coun­try Cham­pi­onships in 2015.

“Queens­land hasn’t won since my first year in the side. So we will be aim­ing to win again, and at least get more wins than losses,” Hamp­son said.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

LEAD­ING BY EX­AM­PLE: Monto born-and-bred crick­eter Tony Hamp­son has been se­lected as cap­tain of the Queens­land Coun­try Cricket team.

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