Big Bash Ben ready to make a splash for Australia

While the entire Australian cricket circuit feels that Ben McDermott — the eldest son of former Aussie quick Craig McDermott — has all the potential to be the next big thing, the youngster smiles shyly as you ask him about his goal.

Ben McDermott at a hotel in Chennai on Monday.   -  Shayan Acharya

Waiting in a hotel lobby can often be interesting. As one looks around the floor to find himself a cosy corner seat, the elevators keep moving from one floor to another. The fancy fragrance sets the mood right, and often makes one forget that the time for an appointment has gone well past the scheduled hour.

And those moments just spice up further if you bump into someone quite unexpectedly. So on Monday afternoon, as the wait to meet former Ireland fast bowler, Trent Johnston, grew longer at a five-star hotel in the city, there came a young gentleman dressed in a grey tee and shorts.

At first glimpse, he looked just like any other youngster, getting past his teens. But a closer look told you a different story. The ones who follow international cricket from close quarters are in the know of a 22-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman. And, if you are a fan of the Big Bash League, there’s no way you could have missed this young face.

Ben McDermott.

The youngster, who replaced Kumar Sangakkara at the Hobart Hurricanes earlier this year, made his presence felt in the BBL with a blazing ton. While the entire Australian cricket circuit feels that Ben — the eldest son of former Aussie quick Craig McDermott — has all the potential to be the next big thing, the youngster smiles shyly as you ask him about his goal. “It’s tough being a wicketkeeper. There’s just one spot in a side for you, or else, you would have to play as a batsman. That’s hard. You are a wicketkeeper, and there’s no other spot where you can be picked — no bowling option. If I get picked as a batsman, I will improve my 'keeping. But there’s no option to pick up bowling or improve on fielding once you are a 'keeper. That’s a challenge,” Ben told Sportstar about the problems of being a wicketkeeper in a competitive environment.

Ever since making it to junior cricket, Ben has always been in the spotlight, thanks to his celebrity father, Craig McDermott.   -  Courtesy: Facebook/ Craig McDermott

 

A 10-day tour to India, which ended on Monday, was a part of Cricket Australia’s MPS programme at the city-based MRF Pace Foundation. And that’s why the youngster was in Chennai to train with Indian players. “It is a programme for young players from all across Australia. We come together for the Australian winter, and train together. That brought us to Chennai to train at the MRF Pace Foundation. We trained there for 10 days, and played two-day games and T20s,” Ben said.

Ever since making it to junior cricket, Ben has always been in the spotlight, thanks to his celebrity father. But as he hopes to go to the next level, the youngster admits that it’s important to make a name for oneself. “It’s (the McDermott tag) been there in my whole career. That’s perhaps the only reason why I went in for wicket-keeping and batting instead of taking up bowling. (I am trying to) just make my own name, and I am just concerned about focusing on my game rather than focusing on what the old man (father Craig McDermott) has done in the past,” he said with a laugh.

That’s perhaps the reason why he shifted base to Hobart from Queensland. “He (Craig) doesn’t talk much about how I should play. Not anymore. He leaves that to other coaches and the batting coaches in particular. He’s more into personal things. He does dad things, he does well. He keeps a distance from cricket these days. He’s been away from the game for a while. He’s kept a distance from my game, especially after I moved out of Queensland,” the youngster said, while checking his phone quickly.

As the conversation went on, the youngster was happy to talk about India captain Virat Kohli. Quite surprisingly, Kohli turned out to be his favourite cricketer. “I love the way Virat plays. I have never spoken to him, though I would like to talk to him once. He plays well in all formats. He has had a great couple of years, and he has proven himself even as a captain. I watch him play, whenever there’s a chance,” he said.

After making it count for the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash, the youngster now has his eyes set on a national team call-up, and for that he’s ready to walk the extra mile. “Being in a good place right now is important,” he said, adding that scoring a century in the Big Bash was quite special. “That’s (the attraction to T20 cricket) where the game’s heading I suppose. Everyone comes to watch the T20 format. But then, always the goal is to play Tests for Australia, play first-class cricket. I have had a great outing last season, where I scored a century for Tasmania in the four-day format, in the first class format. It was as special as the hundred in the Big Bash,” he said.

The last few days in hot and sultry Chennai have taken a toll, but the youngster admits that this experience will help in the future. As he left the city on Monday night, young Ben not only took back experiences with him, there were dreams too—the dreams of donning the Baggy Green sometime soon. Till the mission is accomplished, young Ben has a big task in hand—the task to perform consistently!

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