The last thing on fast bowler Michael Neser’s mind would have been an Australia call-up, especially when he was on a boat with former Queensland teammate and roommate Nathan Reardon. While he was out fishing, a phone call from an official changed his life forever as he next found himself on a flight to England to join the rest of the national squad in London ahead of the first ODI.
“It was all last-minute, I didn’t have too much time to think about it, which was kind of a blessing in disguise,” Neser recollected the chain of events on Saturday (June 16). “I was a bit worried my passport wasn’t up to date, that was the first problem. But after that it was just excitement.
“Two weeks prior to that I didn’t expect to be anywhere close (to the one-day team). It just goes to show in cricket, opportunities can be around the corner, you’ve just got to be ready.”
However, post the settlement of formalities, Neser had all the time to himself on a rather long flight to settle himself in the zone to be ready to take the field as and when the orders were given to him. “My head was spinning, to be honest. It was under 24 hours and I was on a flight to England. It happened really fast,” the 28-year-old added. “It was a very long flight over. I had a lot of time to think about it, things I’ve got to prepare for, opposition I’m against, and by the time I landed I was all good to go.”
Neser, who by his own admission, hadn’t even met half the members of the squad, spent good time with them on a team bonding activity ahead of their warm-up games. In the first of the two practice games, Neser was handed the new ball and picked up figures of 1 for 36 against Sussex at Hove. While he didn’t bowl at all in the following game, it was in a team huddle ahead of the opening ODI that head coach Justin Langer broke the news that the Queenslander would play.
“To hear the words just gave me goosebumps and I realised, ‘Holy shit, now I’m playing for Australia, it’s official’,” Neser remembered. “I was just thinking, ‘Don’t get injured, get through the training session uninjured’.
“(Langer has) been telling our whole group they’ve got to be ready because you never know when your chance might come. That was the one thing in the back of my mind, be ready just in case. I’ve been preparing for the last four weeks, so I’m ready,” he mentioned.
Neser, who came in due to a last-minute back trouble to Josh Hazlewood, admitted to have been very nervous before bowling the first ball. “Once I bowled that first ball, I was fine. I was really nervous the first ball but after that I was OK and just back to business and doing what I’ve been doing for a while now.
“It’s still the same game. Our competition is the one of the best going around and it does prepare you for international cricket. Hopefully all the games I’ve played prior to this through the Big Bash, Sheffield Shield, our one-day competition has made me ready. I’ve just got to perform now and hold my nerve,” Neser said.
The 28-year-old, though, was disappointed with his dismissal in the opening game and hopes to be better in the future. He has six fifties in first-class cricket apart from one in List A.
Neser will now look to make more impact with more responsibility expected to come his way with a toe injury all but ruling Billy Stanlake out of the Cardiff ODI. Having picked up two wickets in the first game itself, his confidence should help him get ahead in the games to come.
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