My India experience: Merlo | Cricket Australia

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My India experience: Merlo

August 29, 2018

Rising star Jonathan Merlo in action at the 2018 U19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand // Getty

By Jonathan Merlo

Men’s National Performance Squad all-rounder and Victoria rookie Jonathan Merlo talks about his experience on the NPS squad’s MRF Tour in Chennai, joining the Australia A squad in Vijayawada and his aims for the season ahead.

It’s been a pretty big couple of weeks.

After a couple of months of training in Brisbane, I’ve got to experience some unreal opportunities - travelling to Chennai with the NPS boys, and then being in and around the Australia A squad for the start of their series in Vijayawada.

The MRF Tour was different to anything I’ve experienced before.

It was great to experience India for the first time, and to get a feel for the wickets here and the conditions.

It’s so different to back in Australia. Being able to combat the spin here is a big thing, and we got to try and work out plans with the bat to combat spin and the way the locals bowl here.

From a bowling perspective, there’s plenty of adapting there too.

It was interesting to get out in the middle, test out a few things with my game, and then experience the heat and the culture to get used to it as much as you can.

Coming back from that, both Cam Green and I got the chance to jump into camp with the Australia A boys in Brisbane, and then head back to India for round two!

It’s probably not exactly what we expected it to be, with the rain and the weather in Vijayawada meaning most of our time was spent indoors.

But that didn’t really affect it too much - I still got to experience an Australia A tour and everything that comes with it.

It was great to get to know the boys in that squad, have a run at a few training sessions and just try to gain as much experience as possible.

I really wanted to use the tour to continue my development as a player, and as a person off the field.

I wanted to learn as much as possible from the coaches and the players, and get to see what competing at nearly the highest level is like - how the players train, prepare and then emulate some of what they do when I get back home.

Having been in CA XI squads and with the Under 19 World Cup squad, the touring side of things is similar in a way.

It’s always different when you’re in another country, and India especially. You’ve got to be adaptable - the weather here has proved that!

But it’s all relatively similar with the way you prepare, the way you train and need to bring your best intensity to every session no matter where you are and who you’re playing for.

A big part of India is adapting - and I tried a bit of the local cuisine. There were a few curries, a bit of everything really… and a few pizzas here and there to keep things normal!

It was good to have Greeny here alongside me.

We’ve been training together and living together for the past couple of months now, so it was good to have a familiar face… especially when you’re surrounded by players you’ve been watching play at the top level for so long.

There was so much to learn from them, and it was good to have Greeny there to turn to, and say ‘that’s how they do it, maybe we can try that’. We bounced a few ideas off each other throughout our time with the Australia A boys.

Being a St Kilda boy, it was nice to have a familiar face from my Premier club back home as well.

I’d done a bit of work with Pete Handscomb when he came up to Brisbane during the NPS program, and that’s continued a bit over here. It’s definitely helped, having that relationship already while trying to meet all the guys over here.

I’m really looking forward to the summer, and hoping the work I’ve done up in Brisbane and over here in India will hold me in good stead for my first year with Victoria.

Every time I play, I want to play as well as I can and show people what I can do.