When Adam Jones, an elder statesman of Tamworth cricket, retired at the end of last season, he had long known who he wanted as his replacement. That man, Jye Paterson, was not born when Jones, 36, made his first-grade debut at the club at age 14.
But Paterson is a mature 19-year-old, and was identified as a leader from an early age – including captaining Central North under-14 and under-16 sides, the latter winning the Bradman Cup.
He has taken charge of a young team with ample talent. Jones helped nurture that talent; now Paterson is charged with converting potential into consistent wins. He wants to see the side improve this season.
“I think we’ll be a good two-day side,” he said. “And with the one-days and T20, just work really hard to take games deep and give us every chance just to be competitive, week in week out.”
An opening batsman and off-spinner, Paterson debuted in first grade for Bective in 2013-14, playing two games, before playing a full season of top grade in 2014-15. In 2016-17 he scored 281 runs in 10 innings at 31.2 and took 11 wickets at 29.8.
He missed last season after taking a job as a cattle stud trainee on a property outside Boorowa, a farming town in the Hilltops region. He spent 18 months there bolstering his experience and then returning to help his father, Chris, run their cattle property on Goonoo Goonoo Road, some 20 kilometres outside Tamworth, and his father’s stock and station agency.
He took the traineeship after leaving school at the end of Year 11. “I was originally gonna finish [high school] and then look at a uni degree,” he said. “But school wasn’t really for me … I always loved being on the farm and kind of want to make a career out of it.
“So it was a good operation, a big operation [at Boorowa]. I went down there to learn a few things to bring back home and put in place here. It was a really good learning experience down there – I learned a heap.”
While there, he played lower-grade cricket through the Yass District Cricket Association.
There is a hint of lament in his voice over the likelihood that he will not fulfil his dream of playing elite cricket. But he is philosophical about that. And besides, he is grounded by already having his path in life set.
“You always dream about trying to make it [in cricket],” he said. “But probably now I’ve sort of settled down a little bit – just play good cricket in Tamworth. You always want to go higher with it. I kind of tried that when I was younger and didn’t quite make it. But you never say never, I guess.”
As with Jones, Paterson made his way through the grades at the club. Jones believes that Paterson was ready to lead the side last season. And had he not moved away, Jones would have handed the captaincy to him then.
“He’s a leader, and has been from a young age,” Jones said. “We thought there’s no better person to take over from me than Jye, at the moment.”