Holt keeping on top of things at U19 World Cup | Cricket Australia

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Holt keeping on top of things at U19 World Cup

January 20, 2018

Baxter Holt has been letting his glovework do the talking for Australia at the Under 19 World Cup // Getty

By Nick Duxson

It’s often said that if you don’t notice the wicket-keeper, they’re doing the job expected of them.

For gloveman Baxter Holt, that’s certainly been the case so far in Australia’s 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup campaign in New Zealand.

It’s the first time the New South Wales young gun has had the opportunity to represent his country, and he’s been determined to make the most of the opportunity.

“It’s pretty surreal really, it’s my first opportunity at playing for Australia at this level,” Holt said.

“Over the years I’ve had few setbacks, not being picked in a few teams, and this is my first real look at the big picture and the elite sport that it is.

“It can be the good and bad thing about keeping really (competing for one spot). If you’re as good as you can be, it’s very hard to get someone to replace you. But if you’re in amongst a bunch of keepers, then you never know really if the spot could be yours or someone else’s.

“(Getting picked for the World Cup) it’s reassurance that I’m doing the right things, and that my work over the years is finally paying off.”

Holt, who hails from the Eastern Suburbs CC in Sydney, certainly hasn’t looked out of place on the world stage with bat or gloves.

He scored a defiant 39 in Australia’s loss to title favourites India before gloving a superb catch off Xavier Bartlett’s bowling against Zimbabwe, and effected a direct-hit run-out against Papua New Guinea.

The 18-year-old sees himself as a ‘keeper first and foremost, who can contribute with the bat when required and hopefully motivate his teammates to produce their best.

“It’s always really been keeping (first),” Holt said. 

“The last year or so my batting has really developed. Keeping is still my main role, but I’d like to think the batting is there as well if it’s needed.

“I like to say it depends on the situation, but I usually like to give myself a bit of time when I get in. Usually that first 30 balls, then I know if I get through that I can go big at the back-end.

“It’s a great experience really, to play against other nations of elite sportsmen. For me personally, it’s about being able to move the guys around (in the field) and inspire them to be the best that they can be. In the end, if I can do that and they play as well as they can, it will mean a bit of silverware for our country.”

Watching Adam Gilchrist as a young kid inspired him to be a wicket-keeper, and in recent years Brad Haddin, Peter Nevill and Alyssa Healy have played a hand his development.

“It was growing up watching the likes of Adam Gilchrist on TV, and I just sort of wanted to be him, the way he played the game was really appealing to me,” Holt said.

“At Milo Cricket I picked up a bat and set of gloves it went from there.

“I did a fair bit of work with Alyssa Healy when I probably was 13, 14, 15 and then I had a session with Hadds probably a year or two ago which was really good. Having the likes of Pete Nevill around the club side is a great opportunity for me as well.”

Part of the challenge for Holt as part of Australia’s Under 19 World Cup squad has been picking leg-spinner Lloyd Pope - he’s to the first to admit that facing him with the bat, he had trouble picking the wrong ‘un.

But the South Australian has been able to give insight into his bag of tricks, leaving Holt comfortable whether he’s up to the stumps of standing back to the express pace of guys like Ryan Hadley and Eastern Suburbs teammate Jason Ralston.

For now, he’s focused on giving his all for Australia in their World Cup campaign.

The goal - like all of his teammates - is to one day play state cricket, and represent his country on the biggest stage of all.

“With the likes of the players we’ve got here, and this opportunity to play at this elite level you get that urge to want to achieve more and more,” Holt said.