George Edwards could be excused for pinching himself when he took guard at the crease on debut for Southern Districts in South Australia’s demanding West End First Grade Premiership cricket competition. “It was an unbelievable experience, a good level of cricket”
It promised to be a baptism of fire for the recently turned 19-year old South Wilts batting prospect from Teffont, who was about to face one of the State’s most experienced bowlers and a Test cricketer to boot. Chad Sayers, skippering rival Adelaide side Glenelg, had made close on 100 appearance appearances for South Australia and in February 2018 had been called up to play in the Wanderers’ Test for Australia against South Africa. Later that same calendar year Edwards was turning out in South Wilts third team cricket under the tutelage of Jody Everett in Hampshire League, County Division 2. There was a distinct gulf to overcome. But Edwards (pictured below), who spent three months at Darren Lehmann’s Cricket Academy before Christmas, emerged from his ordeal with real credit.
Arriving at the crease with his adopted South Australia side 71-3 in response to Glenelg’s 219 all out, Edwards went on to hit a six and four boundaries in an hour-long stay in the middle, making his team’s second highest individual score of 33. He was eventually seventh man out at 128. Three runs later Southern Districts were dismissed for 131 and beaten by 88 runs. “It was an unbelievable experience, a level of cricket I never expected to play as a couple of seasons ago I was playing for South Wilts 3rd and 4th teams and only last year the seconds before making my first team debut in the League Cup match against Calmore Sports,” Edwards smiled. “Facing Chad Sayers was a really good test for myself and thankfully I didn’t get out to him. “I looked him up in Wisden afterwards and found he’d dismissed AB de Villiers (caught behind for 69) and Kagiso Rabada in that Wanderers Test, the match that followed the infamous ball tampering scandal in Cape Town which culminated in Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft being sent home.” South Wilts have only seen glimpses of Edwards’s promise since he joined them from Steeple Langford in 2017.
“I’ve been away at boarding school, initially at Dauntsey’s, then for the past two summers Millfield, so my only chances to play for South Wilts have only come in the school holidays,” he explained. Edwards, who is headed to Oxford Brookes university to begin a sports development and coaching degree course next autumn, acknowledged the help and advice former Hampshire all-rounder Jon Ayling (Dauntseys) and Millfield coach Mark Garaway had given him in his school days. “I couldn’t have asked for two better coaches,” he said. “Garas taught me the importance of being able to field well, as well as fine tuning batting techniques.” Edwards jetting off to the DLCA in Adelaide shortly after South Wilts’ extended autumn season ended and spent three months at the Academy alongside Millfield school pal and South Wilts’ left-arm quick Josh Croom. “It is a high performance programme with training every day Monday-Friday with matches on Sundays or midweek, with strength and conditioning training,” he explained. “I found it tested me every day both mentally and physically, but I’m definitely stronger for it.” Edwards’s DLCA coach has been former SA Redbacks left-hand opener Mark Cosgrove, a ‘gun’ player in the Big Bash League over the years. He added: “Being coached by Mark has been unbelievable, it’s so good to be helped by someone who has as much knowledge and experience in the game as he does. “Being coached by him, playing at the highest level of club/grade cricket in South Australia has definitely helped me develop my skills as a cricketer.” Edwards also had the unique experience of spending Christmas and New Year away from his Teffont family home. “I went to the Gold Coast over the holiday period and had a very Christmassy lunch with a Big Mac in McDonalds. “It was a very weird feeling because it didn’t feel like Christmas being away from family, but still had a nice day lazing about on the beach,” he laughed.
Now back home on the outskirts of Salisbury, Edwards will be crossing off the weeks and days before he can pick up a cricket bat again in earnest. “I imagine South Wilts have earmarked mid-April to begin pre-season friendlies, but the government will not allow non-elite team sport to resume until such times as the Covid-19 pandemic has been brought under control, so I’ll have to be patient, along with everyone else. “I really intend to push for a first team spot at South Wilts this summer. My time spent in Adelaide has provided me with goals to aim for and hopefully given me the platform to push off from, so I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Original Article posted by Mike Vimpany – www.vimpsatthecrease.com