“I used to live just across the road from the Bellerive Oval, they used to play a few Test matches every now and then down there, and a few ODIs as well,” starts off Riley Meredith in an exclusive interview with Punjab Kings.
With an International stadium just a stone’s throw away from his house, a young Riley Meredith naturally gravitated towards the gentleman’s game. Despite trying his hand at soccer and Australian rules football, cricket was always the primary sport in the Meredith household.
“I think I first got interested in cricket because of my older brother. He played a lot of cricket, and he was five years older than me, so we used to play in our backyard all the time,” revealed Riley Meredith.
It was bowling, and bowling quick that piqued the interest of Riley Meredith even early on, and that was evident from the players he looked up to as a youngster. “Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath were my favorite players as a kid. I have always been a bowler growing up, so I really idolized those two,” said Meredith.
Despite his genuine love and interest for the game, Riley Meredith never fancied that he’d be good enough to be playing professionally. However, that all changed in one club game where he managed to impress the Tasmania selectors with his quick bowling, earning his first professional contract in the bargain.
Double Hat-trick Meredith
Meredith was part of the U19 cricket programs in his native state of Tasmania, but hadn’t managed to set the world on fire with his bowling. His local club team Clarence actually had a dismal season in the Cricket Tasmania Premier League (CTPL), which was their state tournament. Clarence and Riley Meredith were heading out of the competition, but in one of their final games, the speedster struck gold as he wreaked havoc with his pace.
“In our last round game against a team called Lindisfarne, I took seven wickets and got a double hat-trick, four wickets in four balls. That was pretty special,” recalled Meredith. The Aussie speedster hit the timber for three of his four wickets in that double hat-trick, with the other one being LBW, as he tormented the Lindisfarne batsmen with his searing pace.
Meredith ended that game with career best figures of 7/20, and also ended that evening with a very special phone call.
“I think that evening I got a phone call, and a tap on the shoulder to say that I’ve got a contract with Tasmania. To be honest, looking back, that was really a life changing game for me.
“I obviously took a lot of confidence from that game, and my professional cricket journey really kicked on from there,” said Meredith in conclusion.