When Daniel Collinson takes guard against Narrabri at Collins Park on Sunday, the Tamworth left-hander will do so with an enhanced skill level born of two years of extra commitment to his craft.
Exhibit A: Opening the innings for West Tamworth this season, he has scored a competition-leading 307 runs at an average of 102.33 – comprising five innings that include scores of 98 not out, 81, 78 not out and 48.
The 31-year-old is a walking advertisement of reward for effort, a country cricketer wringing every ounce of talent from his tattooed body.
The extra net sessions with his West Tamworth opening partner, David Mudaliar, which began two seasons ago, have continued. Now, however, they involve more people – Collinson like a shiny new product.
His sharpened technique and concentration has resulted in his average increasing from 9.50 in 2015-16 to 15.71 in 2016-17 and 20.27 last season. Daniel Collinson 2.0 is the result of a prolonged pursuit of excellence.
His net sessions with Mudaliar were “all quality now”, he said, adding: “It’s not like go in and hit around and then come out. It’s all [about] what we need to work on together.”
Collinson, batting lately with a foot injury that "aches”, said he was now a “100 per cent” better batsman – “hitting them a lot cleaner straight”. “I actually feel like I’m out there to put some runs on the board, instead of just going out there to see what I can do.”
“Dave [Mudaliar] just told me to try something a little bit different, and see if that’ll work. And yeah, it’s worked,” he added.
And he is doing it in style: his innings this season peppered with 25 fours and a competition-leading seven sixes. He has also taken five wickets bowling off-spin.
Collinson is giving back to a game that gives him so much, co-coaching Peel Valley junior cricketers with Wests teammate Stuart Irwin. “I was helping the fourth-graders around the club last year, but this year I’ve gone a little bit lower to see if I can help bring them up through the grades.”
Against undefeated reigning champions Narrabri, Tamworth will look to rebound from a last-start loss to Gunnedah.