Edwards shining before his time
April 20, 2017
Jack Edwards, the youngest member of Australia U19 squad, has impressed in their series against SL
It’s hard to believe Jack Edwards celebrated his 17th birthday just this week.
In addition to his imposing 195cm frame, his mixture of aggression and composure at the crease – which has seen him be one of the shining lights with the bat for Australia's Under 19s side in their six-match series against Sri Lanka's Under 19s – could fool many into thinking they were watching a much older player.
But while Edwards is the youngest member of the squad, he's had one of the biggest impacts on the series.
With scores of 106 and 12 in the three-day game and then 45 and 95 in his two one-day innings so far, the New South Wales allrounder has suddenly thrust his name forward for selection for the 2018 ICC Under-19 World Cup.
"I didn’t have too many expectations coming in really," Edwards, the younger brother of SCG crowd favourite Mickey Edwards, told cricket.com.au.
"I hadn’t been scoring too many runs, but I’ve just been playing relaxed and just trying to showcase myself and it’s been coming off pretty nicely.
"I’ve just got to keep backing myself the next couple of games – that’s been working for me so far."
On the opening morning of the three-day game, Edwards came to the crease with his side in deep trouble at 3-45 in the 15th over.
He walked off the ground hours later with 106 from 186 balls to his name – and his team flying at 5-294 – after the aggressive right-hander had weathered the early storm and capitalised in the middle of the day.
It’s a simple approach, the traditional Australian way of batting positively, but it works.
"I’m always trying to move the game forward and trying to put the pressure back on the bowlers," the teenager said.
"I’m always looking to score, but it’s not always just see ball, hit ball. Sometimes there’s more planning that goes into it, zones I’m going to hit. I definitely like to play attacking cricket shots."
Moving further up the order for the one-day series, the Manly-Warringah product smashed 45 from 40 balls as an opener before contributing 95 off 115 deliveries at first drop in the third match.
Those who have seen Edwards bat in the Pathways system over the past 12 months have seen him dominate bowling attacks before; firstly at the top of the order for NSW Metro at the Under-17 championships, and then for the Cricket Australia XI under now Under-19s assistant coach Ryan Harris at the Under-19 championships.
But a testing season in Sydney Premier Cricket has helped the young gun add another string to his bow.
"I went back to Manly first grade (from the underage championships) and didn’t string the performances together quite as I wanted to," Edwards said.
"I’ve just been trying to relax and work on the mental side of the game, talking to players in that side about their plans and what they do to counteract certain bowling plans.
"I think that’s really helped me, especially in the three-day (game) when it was tough and I really had to think my way through the game."
With his long levers, Edwards has the ability to hit the ball to all parts of the ground, and to get up and under the ball to hit over the infield.
He’s also looking to further modify his game, in order to shift from a batsman who bowls a bit to an out-and-out all-round option.
"I’ve always been a batter primarily," says Edwards, who also bowls handy medium pace.
"I haven’t ever bowled too much, and it’s just been the last couple of years my bowling’s come along. I’m probably trying to transition more into becoming a genuine allrounder, keep batting in the top order and bowling more."
That could be something that works in his favour looking ahead to the aforementioned Under-19 World Cup next summer, with competition for places expected to be fierce with so much young talent in the Australian system.
"I wasn’t expecting too much really (of this series)," Edwards said.
"I always try to stay in the present and keep enjoying it. I know if I keep doing that, the teams will come and I’ll get selected in sides if I keep performing.
"Being only 17 I wasn’t too worried about making this side, but I did have my sights set on the World Cup next year.
"It’s been a good run so far."