Martin Jeffrey is one of many young cricketers descending on the Red Centre for Australia's largest Indigenous cricket carnival.
By
Tara Callinan

Source:
NITV News
8 Feb 2016 - 4:41 PM  UPDATED 8 Feb 2016 - 5:54 PM

The National Indigenous Cricket Championships are underway in Alice Springs, with 12 teams taking part in the week-long contest.

Among the hundreds of players is 16-year-old leg spinner and batsman Martin Jeffrey, who travelled more than 2000km to take part in the inaugural event.

The Wiradjuri superstar from Dubbo in central western NSW has been playing cricket since the age of five.

He has represented NSW in several community and school teams, and more recently starred in the Sydney Thunder Indigenous T20 Team. And that’s where the journey begins.

“I played a few T20 games with the Indigenous Sydney Thunder Team against the Sixers Indigenous side, and performed well in the games. About three months later I got a message from Sydney Thunder asking me to come down and be a net-bowler at their training. So I went down to two of the Thunders trainings and it was great," said Jeffrey.

"I got treated like I was a player and just to be around the likes of Mike Hussey, Jacques Kallis and Shane Watson was unreal."

So Martin, how did that compare to meeting the former captain of Australia, Michael Clarke?

Well I got the opportunity to meet Michael Clarke through the Michael Clarke Cricket Academy. I spent five days in Sydney with him and some of the best coaches in the world.

The main thing he said to me was that there is no formula to success, but if you want it bad enough, you'll make it happen.

Is Cricket Australia ‘making it happen’ for young Indigenous cricketers like you?

I think Cricket Australia is definitely supporting us. I believe this week is a great opportunity for all young Indigenous cricketers under the age of 23 from all states.

Why are there so few Indigenous players representing Australia?

I suppose when you look at it, there aren’t many Aboriginal players playing at all, let alone high level cricket. There are so many players in Australia playing for 11 spots in the Australian Team, so if the percentage of Indigenous cricketers in Australia is low, it's going to be very tough for it to happen.

Although Dan Christian has proved it’s possible to play for Australia in One Day Cricket.

In saying that, would Dan Christian be your role model?

No, my role model is Mike Hussey and has been ever since I started playing cricket, so that made my time at Sydney Thunder even better.

Is it your dream to play alongside him?

My dream has - and always will be - to earn my own baggy green. I want to play cricket for Australia in all three formats of the game.

Do you think a young leg-spinner from the bush can achieve that dream?

The opportunities are there if you want to take them, it doesn't come easy. I believe a lot of people from country areas use the excuse of ‘it's too hard and I don't get the same opportunity as a city kid,’ but as Michael Clarke told me, "if you want it bad enough, you'll make it happen."

Martin Jeffrey was named in the 2016 NSW Mens side, which defeated Victoria in Round 1 of the Championships on Monday.

The finals will take place on Monday, February 15.