Sport

Fast bowler Liam Hatcher on being able to take as good as you give. By Richard Cooke.
Credit: CRICKET NSW

Pace odyssey: Liam Hatcher, 20, cricketer

It’s not easy to bowl fast. You get a lot of injuries, and it’s a tough thing to do. I think a lot of blokes come into the medium-fast bracket, and every now and again you get a couple of blokes that bowl at good speeds. You’re pretty lucky to have that. I think it’s hard to coach, in a sense. A lot of it is natural. So I’m not really sure why, but I’m lucky I’ve got it.

Pace is my weapon. Blokes can swing it and do all the funky business and bowl cutters and all that sort of stuff, and I suppose my X factor and what I can bring to the table is speed.

It’s a good feeling, too. I’ve always backed myself to be able to get someone out. It’s a big reason why I’m confident when I’m bowling. No one likes facing fast bowling. If you give it, you cop it as well. It’s not nice.

Back in the ’70s, ’80s, there was less protection. No helmets, that sort of stuff. I don’t think bowlers batted as much at training as they do these days. Now with all the protection, it evens it up a bit. In the games I think it’s every man for himself.

Batting is a big part of the game now. If you can get anywhere between 80 and 100 runs for your last three or four wickets, it’s amazing to see how many games you can win with that tail chipping in.

I actually used to be an all-rounder. And once I got into the grade and that pathway system, I started to focus more on my bowling and neglected my batting a bit. So that’s why it’s gone downhill. But it’s definitely one of my goals to get that back up, and to be able to average around 20 and become sort of a bowling all-rounder, batting at eight or nine.

Glenn McGrath has helped me a lot. I had a few problems that we went over and we talked about, and his insight was really good. He certainly knows what he’s talking about. He’s certainly got the history and the pedigree to be helping out young fast bowlers like myself. The time I had with him was only eight to 10 days but it was awesome. I learnt a lot.

I do like getting in the batsman’s face. Not letting him settle. Because if he settles and he’s comfortable, then he’s going to play his best cricket. So if I can get under his skin with a bit of gamesmanship, it helps me stay in the contest and stay on top of things. I like seeing the batsman jump around and be uncomfortable.

But some batsmen thrive on that sort of stuff. Blokes like David Warner and Virat Kohli. So it’s definitely about not overstepping that mark. There’s that boundary that you don’t want to go over, when it starts to get personal.

I can’t eat any spices in my food, so I struggled in India. From a cricketing sense, it was awesome though. Learning how to play over there, the different conditions, learning the different scenarios you can get over there. Playing in that sort of heat and humidity as well. Eye-opening is a perfect word.

In the under 19s, the whole team supported each other really well. We got some good results out of it, too. Yes, there’s always going to be competition, but we definitely need each other to excel, and get the series wins and the game wins. We came away with a lot of victories. I put a lot of that down to that sort of camaraderie and mateship.

You’re always going to get injured as a fast bowler. So there is an element of luck, hoping you don’t. I suppose you do everything you can to minimise that risk of injury. It’s not too often that fast bowlers don’t go a few games without a little niggle or something like that. You’ve definitely got to take care of your body in order to be able to bowl fast and be successful.

You don’t want to let your emotions override your thoughts. It’s definitely a juggling act between getting up for the occasion, but also staying relaxed and being able to execute under pressure.

 

This week’s highlights…

Horseracing: Victoria Derby Day

Saturday, 11.45am (AEDT) first race, Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

• Netball: Fast5 World Series

Saturday, 1.45pm (AEDT); Sunday, 12.15pm (AEDT), Hisense Arena, Melbourne

• Soccer: A-League – Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners

Saturday, 7.50pm (AEDT), Spotless Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park

Horseracing: Melbourne Cup

Tuesday, 3pm (AEDT), Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

• Cricket: Australia v South Africa, first Test

From Thursday, 10.30am (AWST), WACA Ground, Perth

Swimming: Australian Short Course Championships

Thursday until Saturday, Brisbane Aquatic Centre

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 29, 2016 as "Pace odyssey". Subscribe here.

Richard Cooke
is a journalist and writer for television. He is The Saturday Paper's sports editor.

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