The decision to switch from medium pace to spin has paid dividends for Tamworth’s Deni Baker.
The 13-year old’s rising stature will see her don the blue and gold of ACT/NSW Country at the Under 15 Female National Championships, which begin in Adelaide on Wednesday.
The combined side go into the six-day tournament as two-times defending champions, and will have at least one of that successful side backing up in fellow Tamworth prodigy Jess Davidson.
One of the brightest young talents in the game, Davidson, who recently made her first grade debut for Bective East, back in December played for the Cricket Australia XI at the under 18 nationals.
For Baker it will be a whole new experience.
“I’m excited but I’m nervous at the same time,” she said at a training run with her Tamworth under 13s side ahead of the Ballina carnival.
About to start Year 9 at Oxley High, Baker’s cricketting journey started in Year 4.
“One of the teachers asked me to play for the PSSA team for school,” she said.
“It just grew from that.”
Her journey took another turn, when at a training session with the Central North girls academy, incidentally on her 12th birthday, it was suggested to her that she give spin a try. So she did, and Deni Baker left arm orthodox bowler was born.
The transition wasn’t easy initially.
“When I first started spin bowling I was bowling a lot of wides,” Baker said.
“But after a couple of months I got a hold of it.”
She said the hardest part of being a spinner is staying focused.
“When people start hitting you you’ve got to stay in the game,” she said.
Eligible to play in the under 15s again next year, Baker was a reserve for the ACT/NSW Country side last year.
Admittedly a bit surprised by her selection, it emboldened her.
“I thought I can do something with this,” she said.
She said she’d love to play for the Sydney Sixers and the Breakers one day, and of course Australia.
Locally she plays for Goonoo Goonoo in the Peel Valley Bush Cricket competition, and is known to regularly bamboozle her male opponents.
ACT/NSW Country open their campaign against Victoria Country.
The tournament will feature a mix of 40 over and Twenty20 games.
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