MICHAEL Threlfall’s build-up to this season lasted six months.
In fact, after helping West Warrnambool to its drought-breaking division one premiership in March, cricket never stopped.
The 19-year-old has returned from a stint in England that revolved around cricket.
He played with Alnwick, the oldest cricket club in Northumberland, batting at number three for the first XI. He played Saturdays, in a mid-week competition every Wednesday and in village cricket on Sundays. When he wasn’t playing, he helped coach, score and umpire primary and middle school cricket.
“It was awesome,” Threlfall said.
“If I had the chance I would go back again. They were really welcoming and I had no trouble fitting in. It was a lot of fun.”
Threlfall made an impact despite a rain-ruined season that saw play on just 13 out of 22 Saturdays.
He made 449 runs at an average of 44.9, including his highest score of 124 not out and two half-centuries.
He said the climate in the town with a population of about 8000 was similar to Warrnambool, with the turf wickets slow.
But the conditions taught him a valuable lesson.
“You need patience when you bat. The ball comes on so slow. There is not a lot of bounce over there,” he said. “That was the main thing. Over here because the wickets are harder you can get away with it, but you just have to be patient.”
He returned home just five days before opening the batting for the Panthers in last Saturday’s win over Allansford. He made 29 on a synthetic-matting pitch.
“I haven’t played on a hard wicket for so long, since the start of last season,” he said.
“There are only a few over there. Even the under nines play on turf because they don’t have football. The grounds are all cricket grounds and they can prepare turf wickets when they want to.”
Today Threlfall and his Panthers teammates face the undefeated Woodford at Bushfield in a critical match before moving to turf wickets next week.
Threlfall, who is likely to pursue his deferred sports science degree at Deakin University’s Geelong campus next year, is hoping the Panthers can have another successful season.
Woodford is one of three sides which have won both their opening matches, while West is fourth on the table, having had a win from one game after the opening match was washed out.
In other matches today, last season’s grand finalist Nestles hosts Merrivale as it chases its first win of the season and Brierly-Christ Church hosts Russells Creek.
Dennington will celebrate veteran Terry Beks’ 300th division one match when it plays Port Fairy away, while division two grand finalists Nirranda and East Warrnambool-YCW clash at Nirranda.