‘Who the hell is this bloke?’
This is it. The Big Bash final. Without doubt, it’ll be the biggest game of cricket I’ve ever played.
The biggest game in my career before this one was last year’s semi-final, though I’ve tried to block that out of my mind. We made 180 which was a pretty good score at Marvel Stadium and should have been enough, but the Renegades got hold of us in the end and chased us down with one ball to spare, and I think I went for a few (2/47 off 3.5 overs).
But I’ve learned from that, and one of the big takeouts is to be calm under pressure. At the Sixers we talk about a game of T20 being 120 contests. Even if you lose a few of those contests, you try to put that behind you and focus on bowling your best ball. Our coaches are always saying, “Don’t get caught in a bad moment and lose four or five contests in a row”.
A great thing about the Sixers is that we like to think we’re a little bit of a family here. Guys like Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes and Jordan Silk have all played 50-plus games for the Sixers, and we have almost the same bowling group as last year. We know each other and can rely on each other and we all get along really well.
One of the strongest points about the Sixers is we play well as a team and we’re all looking to improve and help each other off the field. That’s a big part of how we got to the final.
As for our opponents in the final …
I think the Stars are a really dangerous team across their whole batting line-up, but Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell are two guys who can win a game single-handedly for their team. As a bowling group we’ve got to figure out a way to get those guys out and, if we do that, we can put pressure on the other guys.
I just hope we get to play with all the rain forecast for Sydney. Obviously if it’s rained out, we win the competition and while it’s not ideal to end a season that way, we were good enough to be in The Qualifier in Melbourne and good enough to win that game, so I think we’ve earned it.
We’d definitely still be excited about the win, though obviously we’d rather win in the heat of battle with all the adrenaline. That’s what it’s all about and I really hope we get to play for the sake of the fans too. It’s the first grand final at the SCG for the Sixers and they’ve sold so many tickets.
They’ve already had to move the bushfire relief game down to Melbourne. Fingers crossed, the rain holds off for just a few hours on Saturday evening in Sydney.
‘Back’ from the brink
While the team has been going really well, personally this season has been a triumph for me because of my recovery from back surgery. I’ve had stress fractures in my back almost every year for a while now, as well as some ankle issues, calf issues and knee issues.
But my back was the main issue, and I owe a massive thanks to our team physio Danny Redrup who put me in touch with a surgeon. I had a couple of screws put into my back and some wires wrapped around it for support and stability, and I’ve felt like a different person ever since.
It’s always a risk to get opened up and have things put into you and it took a lot of work to get back to bowling fitness, but hopefully that’s all now resolved going forward.
I wasn’t always a fast bowler. I was one of the smallest kids in my team and used to bowl little medium pacers. Then one of the coaches said, “Why not bowl some spin?” So I was bowling leggies in the nets and quickly discovered they were no good.
I tried a bit of off spin and it was OK, but then when I was about 15 or 16, I shot up a good six inches in the off-season. Everyone in my team said, “Who is this bloke?”, and I started bowling quick and haven’t looked back since then.
I’m known as a bit of a white-ball specialist these days and I love the cat and mouse tactics of T20 cricket. It’s not just about running in and bowling quick and trying to blast teams out. In some situations you’ve taken a lot of early wickets and you know they can’t afford to take risks. Other times, they’re trying to hit boundaries every ball.
The key for me this year has been trying to get hit to the five sweepers. If you’re controlling where the batter’s hitting and he’s only hitting singles, then there’s no damage done. That’s how you build up pressure. You might not get a wicket, but if someone else does after you’ve only gone for six runs in an over, then you’ve done a job for the team.
I suppose I’m pretty well known for my moustache. I shaved it off for the whole of last year’s Big Bash, but my beautiful girlfriend Courtney Bridge urged me to bring it back. I had it when we first met on a night out in Coogee and she loves it.
I get a lot of people asking me if I’m starting Movember early. Let’s just say it’s Movember every month in my world!
People also ask about my surname. I’ve been told one or two of the commentators have trouble pronouncing it but they’re all legends so they can say it any way they want!
It’s a Dutch name. My grandad on my dad’s side is Dutch, and we’ve looked into playing for the Netherlands like Dirk Nannes and one or two other Aussie players with Dutch heritage have done.
But for now, it’s still my dream to play for Australia. I was selected in the squad for the T20 Tri-Series two summers ago, and while I didn’t get a game, I’m still only 25 so I’d love another chance.
Obviously, there are lots of good bowlers ahead of me at the moment. I’ve just got to find a way to take more wickets and go for less runs; that’s the key for any white-ball bowler.