Ollie Davies in T20 and First-Class Cricket: Sydney Thunder vs Brisbane Heat

Shortly after concluding a press conference held at the Cricket NSW’s Silverwater facility, Ollie Davies noticed a stray cricket bat tucked away in the corner of the room. Without hesitation, he retrieved the willow and began shadow batting behind the cameras.

“It’s not mine, but it looks good,” he remarked while practicing his forward defense.

“I might just take it.”

Davies, gearing up for the Sydney Thunder’s Big Bash League season opener, embodies the type of cricketer drawn to test out any bat within reach. His New South Wales teammates have started gifting him their broken bats, which he promptly hands over to his father, a carpenter, with a workshop at home.

“Jack Edwards broke a couple, and my dad fixes them up,” Davies explained.

“I bring them home, he works his magic, and sometimes, I end up using them myself.”

Despite his dad’s humble approach to bat repair, he managed to mend one of Davies’ New Balance sticks last summer, a bat Davies wielded in significant Big Bash games.

“He’s not exactly an expert,” Davies chuckled.

After making his BBL debut following representation for Australia at the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in 2020, Davies quickly became a fan favorite for the Thunder. He secured the club’s leading run-scorer title last summer, amassing 333 runs at an average of 27.75 in 13 innings, earning a debut call-up to Australia A earlier this season.

However, despite his successes, Davies encountered a setback ahead of the 2023/24 summer. Cricket NSW informed him he wouldn’t be considered for the Sheffield Shield team initially, pigeonholing him as a white-ball player.

“I was told I wouldn’t be playing red-ball cricket for NSW in the first few games,” Davies revealed.

“It was tough.

“After some discussions, I was told they didn’t think I was ready for red-ball cricket at the moment. That was pretty disappointing.”

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An injury to Blues all-rounder Jack Edwards eventually paved the way for Davies’ return to the Sheffield Shield side for a recent contest against reigning champions Western Australia at the SCG. Walking in at 4-71 in the first innings, facing tough opponents, Davies delivered a career-best 129 (143), clinching his maiden first-class hundred with a six over long-on.

“I remember batting, and Corey (Rocchiccioli) said if I was on 99, he’d bring the field up,” Davies recounted.

“I said, ‘I’ll take it on.’

“As soon as the ball was tossed up, I thought, ‘I’m going for six.’ Luckily, I got it.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to get out on that one.”

No other player managed more than 54 runs in that match. Davies’ exceptional performance led NSW to their first Sheffield Shield win in over 20 months, ending a 15-match victory drought.

When asked if he felt he had silenced his critics, Davies grinned: “Maybe, just maybe.

“I believed I was ready, and I proved it. I just needed that chance.

“My approach to batting in red-ball cricket isn’t much different from white-ball cricket, and I think that might ruffle some feathers.

“I tend to play shots some might consider unnecessary in the longer format.

“For me, 70 off 70 balls is the same as 70 off 150.”

Davies continued his red-ball form into late November, delivering scores of 67 and 62 in his subsequent Sheffield Shield match in Hobart, emerging as NSW’s top scorer in both innings. Heading into the Big Bash break, he led the state’s run tally in the competition.

Blues opener Daniel Hughes observed a shift in Davies’ mindset this season, praising his work ethic and dedication.

“I’ve seen a change in Ollie this year,” Hughes remarked to Fox Cricket.

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“He’s willing to put in the hard yards off the field. His training, his preparation, it’s all showing in his performances.

“He’s progressing impressively.

“There’s no reason why he can’t become a formidable No. 5 in red-ball cricket. He’s got all the qualities.”

Davies also received acclaim for his intent to score despite challenging conditions, notably during the low-scoring Sheffield Shield clash against Tasmania at the SCG, where the pitch drew criticism. Entering the crease at 4-61 in the first innings, Davies scored an unbeaten 81 despite the testing circumstances, leading NSW to a 74-run victory.

“Players like Ollie negate the impact of the pitch,” former Australian and NSW wicketkeeper Brad Haddin observed on Fox Cricket’s Follow On Podcast.

“He’s one of those unique players who, no matter the conditions, aims to score.

“Some days it works, some days it doesn’t, but he’s always focused on moving the game forward.

“He’s certainly a future star.”

Davies is eyeing opportunities overseas in franchise cricket, having enlisted for this month’s Indian Premier League Auction. However, he remains aware that his chances of selection are slim.

“I had a chat with my manager, and it was a bit of a long shot,” Davies admitted.

“You never know. Someone might have seen some footage and liked it.

“I get that I’m only 23, and I hope to have another decade of opportunities.”

While Test cricket remains his ultimate goal, Davies foresees conflicts ahead. He might need to juggle lucrative overseas opportunities against his commitments to NSW and the Thunder.

“More money lies in the T20 leagues,” Davies acknowledged.

“The cricket landscape leans heavily towards white-ball cricket with the multitude of tournaments.

“At the end of the day, cricket’s a job.

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“I probably won’t open or bat three for Australia in Test cricket. The spots I’m aiming for are probably four, five, or six.

“There might be more chances to play in various leagues worldwide where I could secure a spot. Pursuing those three spots available in Australia might not be everyone’s dream.

“For now, I definitely want to play Test cricket, but I understand some are leaning towards white-ball cricket due to more opportunities.”

Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

While his mother hails from Trinidad, Davies grew up supporting both Australia and the West Indies. Playing backyard cricket with his younger brother Joel, who recently signed with the Sydney Sixers, Davies emulated the Caribbean’s cricket icons and owned West Indies merchandise.

Although eligible for a Trinidad passport, allowing him to represent the West Indies, Davies is resolute in his commitment to Australia.

“I aspire to play for Australia,” he asserted.

“I’d hate the idea of playing for another state or Big Bash team. I love where I am now, and I can’t imagine moving states, let alone countries.

“Who knows? Maybe if I reach 34 and haven’t had opportunities and desperately want Test cricket, it might be a consideration. But for now, I’m determined to stay in Australia.”

Davies is not only dedicated to Australian cricket but also to the Thunder. A successful season might see him pursuing a long-term contract extension, aiming to emulate Thunder captain Chris Green’s six-year commitment made in 2019.

“I’m looking to push for something similar,” Davies revealed.

“I want to be loyal and stay with this club throughout my career. Hopefully, there’s an opportunity for a deal like Greeny’s.

“We’ll see how it goes.”

The Thunder kick-starts their campaign at Canberra’s Manuka Oval, facing the Brisbane Heat at 7:15 pm AEDT on Tuesday evening.

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