Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
DARWIN may just be the tonic Jake Reed needs to finally shed the injury curse that has wrapped itself around him over the past few seasons.
The 27-year-old express pace bowler will spend the next four months in the Northern Territory playing for Tracy Village Cricket Club in the Darwin and Districts Cricket Competition in a bid to regain match fitness before the Australian summer.
The former Irymple and Nursery Ridge pace bowler played his first match in 15 months last weekend after a succession of injuries rendered him to the Victorian cricket team rehab room.
Reed is in the final year of his contract with Victoria for the Sheffield Shield and Matador BBQ Cup season, as well as the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League (BBL).
The speedster exclusively told Mildura Weekly he felt he could make an impact in Victorian colours if he could get himself fit and firing.
“I’ve still got enough self-confidence to be a Victorian cricketer again, but I have to get my body right to be in the mix,” he said.
“The goal is to try and get through to the end of the season in about September uninjured. If I have to miss some of the early One Day stuff with Victoria to recover afterwards, so be it.
“I’ve been bowling for about three months in the nets without a batsman. It took me a bit longer to get back than I would have liked but I’ve bowled a lot of balls in the nets to get myself into condition.
“The age I’m at now, my body is fully developed and I’ll need to have an injury-free run.
“If I can play for the next three months, then maybe I can get three or four Sheffield Shield games in during the season. Fast bowlers always need a rest so if I can be that fourth or fifth pace bowler I can get my opportunity when guys like Chris Tremain or Scott Boland need a rest.”
Impressive form for Geelong in Victorian Premier Cricket and the State Under 23 side saw Reed rewarded with a Sheffield Shield debut for Victoria in February 2014. The paceman has played seven matches at first class level all up, with injuries and a lack of opportunities due to a number of fast bowling options impeding his progress.
Reed then donned the purple of the BBL Hurricanes in late 2015, but he impressed most the following season in BBL 06, bowling alongside fellow tear-away quick Shaun Tait. All up he has taken 16 wickets in 10 Twenty20 matches.
Over the past handful of years Reed said he has gotten to know the medical and conditioning staff at Cricket Victoria “far too well”.
“I think I’ve become too close of friends with them and spent far too much time alongside them,” he said.
“They’ve been really good for me and have been working closely with me to get my body into some kind of match day conditioning. They’re working with me to make sure things are in decent condition.
“I’ve spent a bit of time training alongside ‘Patto’ (fellow injured fast bowler James Pattinson). Watching how hard he works and the sacrifices he makes to get himself back into top condition has been great for me.”
For many professional Australian cricketers, England is the destination of choice during the winter months to keep up match fitness and impress selectors.
When the option of playing in Darwin during the winter months was offered to Reed, however, he knew he couldn’t refuse.
Reed debuted for Tracy Village last weekend, taking 1-24 from eight overs and making 19 runs batting at number 10 in the team’s loss to Southern Districts in the Darwin and Districts Cricket Competition.
“I’m pretty excited to be up here in Darwin,” he said.
“For me it was a pretty easy decision (between the Northern Territory and England). Darwin’s almost like a bigger version of Mildura, the weather is beautiful and I’m loving it up here so far.
“I’ve said to a few people you can’t catch Barramundi in England! I’ve only flicked a few lures so far but hopefully once I get to know a few more people I’ll head out Barra fishing.
“I’ve been told it was lucky timing. The first five weeks of the season were apparently upwards of 35 degrees and 80 percent humidity. Now it’s like a beautiful summer in Mildura.
“They’re very relaxed the Darwin people and they’ve been really welcoming for me so far. The team has struggled a bit early on and hasn’t had a win yet but hopefully there will be one around the corner.”
Reed said he didn’t set the world on fire in his first match for Tracy Village, but hoped he would be better for the run.
“Being my first game in 15 months I was a bit nervous beforehand, which is to be expected, but I managed to get through it, even though it was only eight overs. I’ve recovered pretty well and the body is feeling good,” he said.