Cricket Academy class of 1988 reunites
November 07, 2018
Thirty years has passed since a group of Australia’s best young cricketers assembled in Adelaide, for the inaugural intake of what was then the Australian Institute of Sport Cricket Academy.
The program has had name, location and structural changes since its origins in 1988 – also known as the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy, and now the National Performance Squad based at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.
But its intent remains the same – to help develop Australia’s best and brightest young talent, which now incorporates both a male and female program.
Those who formed the ‘Class of 1988’ came together in Brisbane over the weekend to commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the program, re-connecting and sharing old stories.
“It was a funny one,” Brian McFadyen, a member of the 1988 intake and now Cricket Australia’s High Performance Network Lead, said of the reunion.
“When we first got together, everyone looked 30 years older and had lost a bit of hair and put a bit of weight on. After a few hours together, everyone sort of slipped back into the roles they played 30 years ago.
“The clock got wound back very quickly.”
Twelve of the 15 squad members were in attendance – with Stuart Law (on international duty as coach of the West Indies), Shane George and Ian Fraser unable to attend.
Among those attending were former Victorian ‘keeper Darren Berry and Tasmanian batsman Jamie Cox, while ex-South Australia quick Joe Scuderi travelled back from the UK for the event.
The reunion included the opportunity to catch up over a beer and a meal and share stories, but also a tour of the current facilities in Brisbane – a far cry from what the players of 1988 experienced.
“You can imagine that blew most people away, the facilities,” McFadyen said.
“They really couldn’t believe the difference from now to 1988. A few haven’t had a lot to do with cricket in those 30 years.
“The academy really started with nothing. We got a letter saying we were included in the first cricket academy and stayed at St Marks College near Adelaide Oval.
“We trained at Adelaide Oval – there were really no other facilities – and there were four staff in total. We trained twice a day, generally fitness for one session and skills for one session.
“The major difference to now was that it was a 12-month contract. We were based in Adelaide and played for a Premier club there, and were shared among the Premier clubs.”
Players from this year’s National Performance Squad – such as Jack Edwards, Josh Philippe and Lloyd Pope – have already used the program as a launchpad to kickstart their careers with impressive performances in the JLT Sheffield Shield. In its 30-year history, the program has seen 30 per cent of all players go on to represent Australia at international level in at least one format.
Only one player from the 1988 intake (Stuart Law) went on to play for Australia, but the program then – as it continues to do now – helped produce high-quality cricketers and people.
Most of all, it was an enjoyable time to be a cricketer – as McFadyen and his teammates remembered clearly.
“It was a lot of fun, but it’s obviously evolved a lot now with a lot of funding and resources,” he said.
“The stories from the weekend, believe it or not, were still pretty accurate.
“Everyone’s strongest memories were Ambassadors night club in Adelaide, and the sand hills. Bob Crouch, our fitness coach, strategically positioned fitness sessions on the sand hills for Saturday morning or Sunday morning.
“Some people’s memories were a bit sketchy… but I think the stories were mostly factual.”