A YEAR ago Nick King was just a teenager on the sidelines supporting Dennington. Today he will face the biggest test of his burgeoning career when he lines up with the Dogs in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association division one grand final against West Warrnambool.
The now 16-year-old got a taste of division one last season playing two games but he couldn’t force his way into the Dogs’ finals campaign.
After an off-season boxing for fitness and working on his batting, he set himself to cement a spot this season.
Co-coaches Dustin Drew and Jamie Fogarty rewarded him with the coveted number three position in the batting line-up.
He knew it was the opportunity he had craved. But he struggled for runs, making just six in two trips to the crease before he was dropped.
“It probably needed to happen,” the Warrnambool College student said of his demotion.
“It was a bit of a wake up call.
“I went back to the twos and got some form and in juniors with the Western Waves and under 17 Country Week.”
He made a 90 at Country Week and then 103 and 45 with the region’s representative side at the state championships.
In a golden period, he also made a century in division two and followed it up with a 47, earning a recall to the top grade.
“It was tough,” King said of batting at three.
“I enjoyed being in the ones but I’m enjoying it a lot more batting now at six.”
And it shows. He is averaging 29.6 with a highest score of 42 in the final round must-win game against the then undefeated West Warrnambool.
King is one of four teenagers in Dennington’s line-up today, joining fellow 16-year-olds Ben Rantall and Shannon Beks and 17-year-old Jack Lee. Rantall is playing alongside his father Mick and Beks is joining his dad Terry for the second consecutive year in the grand final.
Skipper Drew said his young brigade had been impressive during the season.
“I can’t remember anyone in the competition that has had four kids under 17 in their grand final side. And there wouldn’t be too many sides that have had two father-sons in a grand final,” he said.
King said he was fortunate to be part of a grand final side so early in his career and acknowledged having three mates alongside him added to the significance.
“I enjoy playing with them, it’s good to have other young blokes there and it makes it a bit more relaxing,” he said.
“I’m really lucky.
“The team has done really well and I’m lucky to get back into the ones.
“Dustin (Drew) told me not to let it shatter my confidence and just to get some confidence back up and make some runs. I had worked pretty hard from the start (of the pre-season) and I kept doing lots of work.
“I ran a fair bit, two or three times a week, did some core strength stuff and batted.”
He said he felt he needed to repay his coaches’ faith.
“It would be good if we could get over the line.
“We know they are a really good side. I think because they didn’t have a challenge until they played us it was good to show them our best can beat the best.”