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My schedule was intense. I was in the gym at 6am Monday, Wednesday, Friday and running Tuesdays and Thursdays. I would come home, have breakfast and get to school before class started at 8.40am. Then I’d be back to Moore Park to have a hit in the nets. And then I would study till 9pm or 10pm. Bed. Repeat.


There was a three-week Australian under-19s series against Sri Lanka in Hobart, which meant I got back to Sydney the day of my English exams in our HSC trials. Justine Whipper, our player development manager with NSW at the time, did her best to make sure I was managing my studies OK, but the teachers weren’t giving me much leeway. They were like, ‘Nope, these are trials.’


That series also meant I missed Sharon’s wedding to Patrick. It was at Whale Beach on April 8, which is also her birthday. I’m not proud of the way I broke the news to her. Sharon’s a lawyer and she was quizzing me on my legal studies one night. I was stressed and frustrated and I felt like she was picking on me. I put my pen down at one point and pointed to my schedule. ‘I’m not coming,’ I said. She burst into tears. I immediately thought, ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’


I wasn’t myself anymore. I felt so bad.


Between the trials – which were about the worst exams I’ve ever had – the wedding and the cricket, I felt like I was at breaking point. It all came to a head not long after. I went to lunch with mum, dad and my mentor/manager, Bill Anderson, at Little Jack Horner on Coogee Bay Road. I was on the verge of tears. I told them I was really struggling with my cricket and I wasn’t sure how I could keep going.


I’d only told Joe and Bill how I was truly feeling to that point. It was the first time I’d really opened up to mum and dad about it.


When I’d stopped crying and had calmed down, Bill stood up and said, ‘You need to spend some time with you parents for a bit. I’ve got a gift for you in my car and I’ll pop out and get it.’ He returned a few minutes later with a pair of happy socks with a rainbow on them. He said, ‘I want you to wear these around. I want them to remind you that we all want the best for you.’ I’ve still got them. Bill remains one of the most important people in my life.



During the off-season we had a mental skills session with Beau Casson, our batting coach. It was supposed to be for academy players but Beau chucked me in. He was aware that I wasn’t in a great place. I knew the reason he was including me.


Beau showed us a video of Inky Johnson, a former cornerback with Tennessee, called It’s Not Just About You.


It’s an amazing story about a guy who came from very humble origins and, with the support of everyone around him, made it into one of the best college teams in America and, in doing so, lifted them all up.


It really hit me.


I thought, ‘I have been so selfish this whole time. I haven’t even thought about the impact I’ve been having on other people around me. I’ve literally divided my family between Newcastle and Sydney because of the way I’m feeling.’


Mum made sure everyone ate before she did. Dad was the same. The two of them would work long hours then, as soon as they got home, they’d set about making sure everyone else was alright.


Every time dad would come down to Sydney to see me, mum would have to go up to manage the restaurants and the businesses. The only time they ever really saw each other was when they were crossing paths on the M1.


I remembered all the times I would blow up at mum over the smallest things. This move to Sydney was your fault! I was fine in Newcastle! I don’t have any friends here!


I thought, ‘I have been such a bad person.’


Around the same time I met a friend, Sia, and she told me her story. Her family were from very humble beginnings and she did so much for them. She was my age and she was very grounded. It inspired me.


I decided it was time to change my life.





I went to the Sikh temple in Blacktown. I realised that I’d walked away from a lot of things during my selfish period and religion was one of them. We used to go to the temple every Sunday in Newcastle but I lost that routine after we moved to Sydney. I’d really missed it.


I told God, ‘I need to find something to make me a better person.’


I walked out of the temple feeling peaceful. The thing I love about my religion is that it is all about helping others. It inspires unselfish behaviour and that makes me think of my parents. My dad prays every morning and would do anything for his family. And mum is the most selfless person I’ve ever met.



I went home and wrote down on an A4 piece of paper all the things I wanted to achieve in order to be the best possible version of myself. I signed it and I stuck it on the wall next to the light switch. I thought, ‘Every time I turn the light off to go to bed, and every time I switch it on in the morning, I’ll see it.’


I woke every day and tapped the note on the way out.


It was a little reminder to stay on the right track.


Through all this, I started enjoying my cricket again. I looked forward to going to training and competing in games. I watched all the Rocky movies to get fired up. I mean, it’s Rocky and Apollo smacking the hell out of each other. It’s impossible to not love a contest after watching that!


I had one little hurdle to get through: the HSC.


I went pretty well. The last exam was legal studies. I finished with about a minute to go and I remember just staring at the clock and watching the seconds hand tick. When the lady said, ‘Pens down,’ I threw my pencil in the air. And then I had a little Rocky moment. I ran up the stairs like he did in Philadelphia and punched the sky. It was all over.


Life is good now.


The guys at Randwick-Petersham have been a big part of that. Everyone at the club has gone out of their way to make me feel welcome. I remember Mike Whitney, our president, sitting me down when I first arrived and telling me that every time I play for the club I had to uphold our values: trust, respect and humility. Those words have always stuck with me. 


I finished last year making my first-class debut and scoring a century against England for a Cricket Australia XI. And this year I’ve been playing with the Blues in the Sheffield Shield and managed a century against Tasmania this week.


Patrick, my brother-in-law, took the day off work so he could watch me get the hundred. Sharon told her boss she was leaving early and jumped into an Uber from the city once I got to 80. Mum, Bill and my cousin Daya were there too. Daya plays with me at Randwick and, when I was 70 not out overnight, he got me on the compression machine, took me for a swim at Maroubra and made me breakfast the next morning. What a legend.



If there’s one thing I look forward to, though, it’s the day when mum and dad are living together under the same roof again. We have a little tradition every Friday or Saturday night, where we go to Sharon’s place and she makes a cheese ball platter. I want dad to be part of those.


Dad still drives down from Newcastle to help me prepare for big games. His arm’s cooked – I’ve used it up – so he just feeds me balls and passes on little insights. He’s watched me play since I was nine and knows more about my game than I do.


When I play cricket now, I play for my family, friends, neighbours, coaches, mentors and everyone else along the way who has supported me.


The best thing I can do out of respect for mum is to not drink. I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in my life. Her father passed away when he was relatively young. He drank a lot and had major liver problems. Mum has never demanded that I not drink. It’s just an unspoken thing between us. I can see how much alcohol has hurt her in the past and I don’t want her to feel anything like that again.


She does so much for everyone else. It’s the least I can do to make her happy.


I want to grow up being like my parents.


If I’m anywhere near as good as them, I’ll be sweet.


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