ULLADULLA United ace Matt Gilkes will live out every cricketers boyhood dream when he plays for his country for the first time.
Matt will head to Sri Lanka in May to tour with the Australian Schoolboys under 15s team, after an impressive performance for NSW at last month’s national championships in Canberra.
NSW went through undefeated to win the tournament known as the Ricky Ponting Cup, in which Matt played a crucial role as wicket keeper and opening batsman.
He made two half-centuries during the tournament, which wrapped up with a nail-biting two-run win over WA in the final.
Their achievement certainly did not go unrewarded, with Matt to be joined by four of his NSW teammates in the sub-continent.
Matt said being picked for his country is easily his greatest achievement and he described it as a really cool feeling.
The squad was announced at the end of the tournament and although Matt was quietly confident he had done enough to catch the selectors’ eye, he said he was still surprised to hear his name called.
“I played pretty well, so I thought I would have a chance, but I was still shocked when they called my name,” he said.
“I really enjoyed the experience of playing against the other states and it was a great way to end a good week,” he added.
Matt will fly to Brisbane on May 5, where he and the rest of the squad will spend two days at the Centre of Excellence, before departing for the Sri Lankan city of Galle.
They will play mostly one dayers and T20s against regional under 17s sides, before finishing their tour by facing off with the Sri Lankan under 15s school team in a two-day game in Colombo.
So how much does he know about Sri Lanka?
“Not much,” he laughed.
“I’ve never been anywhere like it before, so I’m not really sure what to expect.
“But I have heard it will be very hot and humid.”
Matt said playing for NSW was easily the strongest standard of cricket he has ever played and only expected it to get tougher in Sri Lanka.
Locally, Matt has had a great season in juniors for Ulladulla, taking out the under 16s batting average award at last Sunday’s district presentation with 453 runs at 90.6.
While he still has another year of juniors up his sleeve, he is already playing first and second grade regularly and made his maiden 50 in the top grade earlier this season.
Matt credited his recent success to spending lots of time working on his game with his father Rob, who has always been his greatest coach.
The Ulladulla United Cricket Club will be running some fund-raising nights to help Matt achieve his goal.