Harper legacy lives on

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - LOCAL CLASSIES -

Mel­bourne Rene­gades player Sam Harper has many lo­cal cricket fans tun­ing into the Big Bash League, with the top or­der bats­man and wicket-keeper hav­ing a con­nec­tion to De­niliquin.

The 22 year-old is the son of Bryan Harper, re­garded as one of the best crick­eters to play in the De­niliquin & Dis­trict Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion.

Vic­to­rian coach An­drew McDon­ald came knock­ing in re­cent weeks when it be­came clear the Rene­gades would have va­can­cies in the top or­der.

Sam has since played five games with the Rene­gades, scor­ing 95 runs.

He most no­tably starred for the Rene­gades with his fifth-wicket 68 run part­ner­ship with Mo­ham­mad Sam, scor­ing 36 runs off of 25 balls, with three ‘fours’ and two ‘sixes’, to help put the Rene­gades in a win­ning po­si­tion be­fore be­ing run out by Michael Klinger.

To see his son get the call up in place of hard hit­ting opener Aaron Finch (due to in­ter­na­tional du­ties) was a proud mo­ment for fa­ther Bryan.

‘‘It hasn’t come out of the blue but he’s worked hard for this play­ing a few Sh­effield Shield games in the past so this is a new chap­ter,’’ he said.

‘‘He’s done well, play­ing his shots and tak­ing the chance he’s been given. Hope­fully he can pro­duce a knock higher than 36.

‘‘Rather than throw­ing him at the bot­tom of the lineup they’ve de­cided to put him at the top.’’

Bryan started play­ing with Deni RSL at the age of 16, leav­ing be­hind a legacy that will al­ways be re­mem­bered.

Dur­ing his time at RSL, he scored two dou­ble cen­turies in the DDCA, one in the 1982/83 semi-fi­nal and an­other the fol­low­ing sea­son.

The open­ing bats­man also con­trib­uted well to RSL’s three-peat of pre­mier­ships from 1980/81 to 1982/83, scor­ing in the 60s in 80/81 de­cider against Mor­ago and mak­ing 68 in 1982/83 de­cider against Mayrung. He also put his best foot for­ward with 128 in a los­ing 1983/84 grand fi­nal against Town.

Bryan also rep­re­sented the DDCA at Bendigo Coun­try Week on three dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions from 1982 to 1984.

Photo cour­tesy AAP Im­age/Hamish Blair.

He show­cased his tal­ent as a pro­lific run­scor­ing open­ing bats­man when he scored 100 against Leon­gatha at Bendigo Coun­try Week in 1984.

In 1983 Bryan gained se­lec­tion in the Vic­to­rian Coun­try Cricket League XI after a se­ries of fine per­for­mances with the bat as part of the un­de­feated Goul­burn Mur­ray Zone team at a five-day car­ni­val in Mil­dura.

Lo­cal sports his­to­rian Gerry ‘Cow­boy’ Cor­ri­gan said Bryan was one of the best crick­eters he’s seen play in Deni.

‘‘He was the best open­ing bats­man in north­ern Vic­to­ria and south­ern NSW,’’ he said.

‘‘He left Deni to study and played for the Mel­bourne Cricket Club in first and sec­ond grades.

‘‘Bryan went on to cap­tain/coach Caulfield in the Sub-Dis­trict com­pe­ti­tion and has also rep­re­sent the Vic­to­rian Coun­try Cricket League and the Sub-Dis­trict Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion.

‘‘With his tal­ent, as well as his broth­ers Lau­rie and Tim, there’s no sur­prise that Sam is per­form­ing well on the big stage.’’

Sam Harper is only 22, but he has had his share of chal­lenges over the last two years.

He suf­fered a se­vere con­cussion dur­ing a Sh­effield Shield game in Ade­laide early in 2017 that caused him to be hos­pi­talised for two weeks and set him on the path of a lengthy re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

The wick­et­keeper, one of the most high­lyrated young glove­men in the coun­try, was play­ing in just his sixth first-class game and was felled when South Aus­tralia’s Jake Lehmann in­ad­ver­tently col­lected him in the hel­met with his bat.

The glove­man re­turned for the start of the 2017-18 sum­mer but his op­por­tu­ni­ties with Vic­to­ria were lim­ited re­sult­ing in him los­ing his con­tract with the Mel­bourne Stars.

He spent the off-sea­son play­ing cricket in Bris­toll, where he found form with the bat, such that Rene­gades and all of Deni will be hop­ing that Sam can keep his spot in the Rene­gades line-up when the likes of Test open­ers Aaron Finch and Mar­cus Har­ris re­turn to the side.

Sam Harper bat­ting dur­ing the Big Bash League match against Mel­bourne Stars on New Year’s Day.

Bryan Harper after scor­ing a record break­ing dou­ble cen­tury in the 1982-83 De­niliquin & Dis­trict Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion semi-fi­nal for RSL.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.