THE 2019/20 cricket season is shaping up to be the busiest to date for Ulladulla product Matthew Gilkes.
This summer will be his first with the NSW Blues set-up, after signing a rookie contract with the club in May - on the back of him scoring 508 runs at 46 in the Futures League competition and 604 runs at 50.33 in the NSW Premier League competition with UNSW.
On top of this, the 20-year-old recently penned a two-year deal with Big Bash franchise, the Sydney Thunder - after impressing during his two matches last season.
"Last year I came into the Thunder squad as a replacement player for Pat Cummims," Gilkes said.
"But after a number of conversations with the Thunder during the off-season, they indicated they wanted to keep me around - an opportunity I jumped at.
"Signing this deal is something I've been striving for and I'm stoked it's happened."
"Getting that experience and a taste of what it's like last season was really important for me," Gilkes said.
"It showed me the standard I have to be at and where I want to be at moving forward."
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But before the Ulladulla High School alumnus dons the lime and black colours, he will be lining up with the NSW Blues, after a rigorous pre-season.
"My first pre-season with the Blues was a massive challenge," he said.
"We got smashed early by our strength and conditioning coach, doing plenty of running and gym work.
"That's all behind us now and we have been concentrating on skill work now."
To prepare for the upcoming March One-Day Cup and Sheffield Shield, Gilkes' Blues had a string of trial intra-club trial matches.
In the first, Gilkes dominated, scoring 75 from 48 balls, before game two was washed out.
In game three, Ulladulla United junior came back to earth with a duck.
"It's been awesome to be around all the boys and see how they all approach the game of cricket," he said.
"I've tried to take aspects from certain players and implement them into my own game."
Wicketkeeper/batsmen Gilkes is hoping all the work he's done will see him included in the Blues squad for the opening two matches of the one-day series, against Queensland and Western Australia, at Allan Border Field, Brisbane.
"I've obviously got a couple of goals going into this season, one being to be more consistent with my performances across the board," he said.
"If I do that, I'm confident I can start to be picked into more squads, starting with the Blues one-day team.
"By continuing to work hard with numerous top line coaches, I know this is going to be my biggest season to date on the field."