Since I could walk
However much I’ve felt at times that I don’t belong, reaching first-class level and playing BBL hasn’t been a fluke. I had a couple of lucky breaks along the way, but I’ve also been very dedicated and have been bowling and hitting a ball since I could walk.
My love of cricket came from my dad, Jude. He was born in Lahore in Pakistan, where he and his five brothers played soccer and were boxers. But when Dad moved to Australia, he was introduced to the Cavaliers by a workmate and fell in love with the game.
Dad had a really good work ethic and spent a lot of time practising. Over more than 20 years, he went from being an opening bowler to an opening batsman and all-rounder, he’s coached a lot at the club and captained it as well. A few years ago, they decided to name the club bowling award after him.
I spent each weekend at his games. His teammates, I’m sure, used to hate me because whenever Dad was batting I’d be asking them to throw balls to me in the nets. They were always really kind and threw balls. Dad would, too, when he wasn’t out in the middle.
When I was old enough, I started playing juniors at Oakleigh and, eventually, some senior cricket, before moving on to Casey South Melbourne.
I was actually a batsman in those days and bowled a bit of slow, seam-up stuff. In a senior game once, when I was about 15, the team was without a spinner and Dad announced ‘Clive can bowl some spin!’ I bowled in that next game and took six wickets. From there, I just stuck with it.
I had a bit of a lucky break soon afterwards. While playing in a game in which I took 4-20, one of the fathers watching happened to be the coach of the Victoria under-15s. After seeing me bowl, he invited me to join the squad they’d already picked for the trials. I went along and was selected in the final team.
We went to the national championships and I ended up being selected in the team of the tournament. A couple of years later, I was picked in the Victoria under-17s and then the Australia under-19s.
It was a pretty quick rise – within 12 months of starting to bowl spin, I was playing at the national level for my age.
The process continues
I made my first-class debut for Victoria in 2013 and played for the Stars before moving to Tasmania, where I joined the Hobart Hurricanes. I’ve managed to play 10 first-class matches all up, but the BBL has allowed me to live out my dreams of playing big-time cricket.
In the future I’d like to use my sport and rec diploma, personal training qualifications; I have an interest in strength and conditioning. I might end up coaching junior cricketers, which is something I feel passionate about. But, for the moment, I’m continuing to try and get the most out of my career.
When I start this season for the Hurricanes I’ll be able to look back on some really good performances, to remind myself that I can mix it with the best. At the top of the list will be a game I played early on for the Hurricanes, against the Sixers in Sydney, in which I got Jordan Silk and Moises Henriques out.
Henriques is probably one of the better players of spin in the country. It was a key moment for me in feeling that I could trouble guys who play at this level.
It’s been a long process. Early on in my BBL career I had to pinch myself on occasion. I remember, at the Stars, thinking it was incredible to be in the same team as Shane Warne. I have a photo at home of me with Warney when he was playing for Victoria. I was 11 or 12. He was one of my idols.
I never told him about that photo – I didn’t want to make him feel old – but there I was in the same dressing room as him, as a teammate. ‘Maybe I do belong here’, I thought.