The cricket season can't come quick enough for rising star Matthew Gilkes.
The Ulladulla product had a taste of the big-time cricket when he made his debut for the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash earlier this year.
He wants to experience more big-time cricket.
Gilkes was back in the Shoalhaven this week as part of annual Cricket NSW Country Blitz.
He, along with Breakers' Naomi Stalenberg, attended various events, including a highly successful coaching clinic at Sanctuary Point Oval.
Gilkes also secured his first rookie contract with the NSW squad, which is preparing for the Sheffield Shield.
"I have just been doing some good pre-season training at the moment and we have been really ripping in," he said.
He has been training alongside the likes of Kurtis Patterson and Moises Henriques.
"They are awesome to have around given their cricket experience," he said.
"They are really good for us young guys coming through and they take the time to help us."
The pre-season training program had the Blues spending a lot of time in the gym and on the running track.
"We were getting absolutely smashed by our strength and conditioning coach, which was tough," he said.
"This is my first big pre-season and so I am the fittest I have ever been in my life."
His Sydney grade form with Sydney University will also be vital to potential shield debut.
Gilkes is heading into his third season with the University side.
The 20-year-old also wants more Big Bash experience in the 2019/20 season.
After being part of the Sydney Thunders squad for the majority of the season, Gilkes was handed his debut cap at Optus Stadium, when his side played the Perth Scorchers in January this year
He made 51 from 35 balls.
"I had a bit of experience through the Big Bash last season and hopefully it holds me in good stead for this coming season and I will get a few more games in there," he said.
"It was like no feeling I ever had before and walking out in front of such a crowd was something else. Overall, it was just an awesome experience.
"The experience makes you want to keep on playing in front of crowds like that ."
He tries to get back down to Ulladulla to catch up with family and friends as much as he can.
Gilkes also enjoys helping with coaching clinics
"I used to be one of these kids growing up and so it's always good to give back when I can," he said.
Gilkes proved to be a popular figure and signed many autographs at the Sanctuary Point clinic.
He presented a Sydney Thunder playing top, number 22, to President of the Shoalhaven Cricket Association Craig Howsan.
The top is likely to be used to reward a junior player or a junior club.