FROM not having picked up a cricket bat three years ago, Queanbeyan Cricket Club’s latest recruit Josh Connolly has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the sport’s ranks.
Last month saw the Brisbane product named in the ACT Comets squad and the 20-year-old also looks set to form a crucial component of Queanbeyan’s multiple title campaigns this season.
But unlike the majority of those he’ll be playing alongside in the Bluebags first grade line-up, Connolly didn’t grow up with bat and ball in hand.
Instead, Connolly’s considerable sporting talents were dedicated toward a promising tennis career that saw him at one stage ranked as one of Australia’s top junior players.
“I don’t think I picked up a cricket bat until I was about 17,” Connolly said in his first interview with The Age since joining Queanbeyan. “I probably got to a point though in my tennis career where I was at a crossroads.
“After being on the state and national level, I felt like I wasn’t going to be good enough to go on from there to the international stage so I thought I’d look at other avenues for a sporting career.
“Cricket was an opportunity for me just to enjoy sport and also to get the opportunity to play with my mates which I didn’t get to do with tennis.”
Connolly’s switch from the tennis court to the cricket pitch began when an opportunity presented itself to tour England with his school side and the talented off-spinner hasn’t looked back since.
Last season, Connolly was the second-leading wicket-taker for his local club Sandgate-Redcliffe in the Brisbane first-grade competition, taking 27 wickets at an average of just under 37.
It’s an enviable record for a bloke who has only been hitting the nets for a couple of years.
“It did come fairly naturally to me but it’s hard for me not to become impatient and to keep in mind I’ve only been doing it for such a short period,” Connelly said. “I like to think I’ve worked pretty hard on it though as well since I got into it.”
Connolly’s opportunity to join Queanbeyan and the Comets this season arose through a connection with former Comets player and Southgate-Redcliffe teammate Jordan McLennan.
After seeing Connolly in action, McLennan recommended he get in touch with Comets coach Mark Higgs who offered him a spot with the Canberra-based representative side.
Queanbeyan Cricket Club.
2012/13 gains:Chris Russo (Tuggeranong), Josh Corbett (Wests UC) and Josh Connolly (Brisbane).
Losses:Mark Higgs, Dean Solway, Blake Dean, Michael Spaseski, Daniel Rootes, Michael Curtale, Simon Mackie, Dean Southwell and Lea Hansen.