Wyllie forges his own path in idol’s footsteps
Had Teague Wyllie been given the chance to write the script for his first full season of first-class cricket, there’s no doubt it would have been a little different to how it turned out.
After hitting his maiden century in the opening match of the season – just his third first-class game – it would have probably had a few more runs first, and secondly, a plethora of partnerships batting with West Australian great Shaun Marsh has.
As a hero of the teenage batting prodigy, it’s no surprise Wyllie has gravitated towards Marsh – WA’s all-time leading run-scorer across all formats – since his ascension to the state team 12 months ago.
So it is with a hint of sadness that the 18-year-old has accepted the No.3 role that his idol played with such grandeur for WA for much of his decorated 22-year career, with Marsh this season only managed one appearance due to various injuries before announcing his retirement from first-class cricket earlier this month.
Wyllie didn’t play that game and, as it turns out, the young right-hander’s first two games 12 months ago – which included WA’s drought-breaking Marsh Sheffield Shield title – are the only times he has taken the field alongside the veteran run machine took
It is with some consolation, then, that Wyllie considers himself “pretty lucky” to be Marsh’s last roommate on an away trip as a player for WA, with the pair teaming up during their game against Tasmania in Hobart last month, which Marsh missed because he broke his finger. in the preceding match against South Australia.
“He was pretty much one of the coaching staff on that trip and we sat down at the end of the night and watched a few TV shows and talked cricket,” Wyllie told cricket.com.au’s Unplayable Podcast ahead of Thursday’s Sheffield Shield Final.
“To be able to rub shoulders with him and be like a sponge and absorb as much information as I can from a legend of WA cricket, I was very, very grateful for.
“I’ve only been able to play two Shield games with Shaun, my debut and a Shield final, so two games that are pretty special to me and I’m very grateful.
“In 20 or 30 years when we sit back and talk about the legend that is Shaun Marsh, I’m very happy to say that I’ve played a few games with him, which is a few more than most people. “
After becoming the youngest player to win a Sheffield Shield title last year, Wyllie has a chance to add a second this week before his 19th birthday.
He will do so in the batting position Marsh has held for most of his career, which WA head coach Adam Voges says he has a chance to make his own “for a long time” as the legendary left-hander have done in the past decade.
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Having started the season at No.5 where he scored that maiden century against NSW last October, Wyllie is happy to bat anywhere an opportunity comes his way.
By his own admission, it’s been a “challenging” season since that first ton, but it’s not for lack of commitment.
“It was a bit of an up and down season for him,” admits Voges.
“He started with a bang to make that century in the first Shield match, and then had some challenging spells throughout the summer.
“But he’s worked very hard on his craft throughout the season as we expect him to, and now he has this opportunity with Shaun retiring … to make the No.3 spot his own for a long period of time.
“We know how incredibly talented he is, he works very hard and he will give himself the best opportunity to go out and perform well.”
Wyllie knows it has all happened very quickly for him since the U19 World Cup last year, and he will continue to progress through the ranks of Australian cricket: after the Shield final, he will head to New Zealand for his first ‘A’ -tour where he will face the Dukes ball in conditions that try to replicate what Australian batsmen encounter in England.
And after transitioning to the life of a professional athlete before he turned 18, with cricket taking up much of his time even before then, he begins to understand the importance of downtime to clear his mind. to take from what he now works on a day-to-day basis.
“Standing is something I didn’t really appreciate until a year or so ago,” reveals Wyllie.
“I was working full-time on a farm, I was working out full-time, and then I tried to play some golf and I was pretty burned out.
“Before the start of this year I thought I should try to step away from the game a bit when I have opportunities.
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“So whether it was going out and playing golf or going to the beach with my dog or seeing the family now that I’m living in Perth, those are the things I’ve tried to do to get away from the game .”
Smiling as he says his golf game is unfortunately “not getting much better”, Wyllie only plans to pick up a club in July after the two Australia A four-day matches against New Zealand A in Lincoln, before setting himself up om Marsh’s former No.3 sees his own next summer.
“I really enjoy batting three, almost every game of senior cricket or juniors I’ve played I’ve opened the batting so I like to get near the top of the order,” he says.
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“I get a little nervous so the less time I spend waiting the better for me.
“The WACA can have its challenges in batting order with the new ball on a tough wicket, but once you get through the first 30 or 40 balls it can be the best place in the world to bat.
“I’ve played 12 or 13 four-day games this year with a few more to come … so I’ll give myself a nice break so come July and August I’m raring to go for next year.”
The Marsh Sheffield Shield final will be broadcast live on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports, as well as streaming live for free on cricket.com.au and the CA Live app.