THREE Ballarat cricketers are preparing to take their game overseas for the winter.
Wendouree export Mat Begbie, who spent the last two seasons playing Victorian Premier Cricket for Melbourne Cricket Club, will return to the newly promoted Bramhall Cricket Club, while former Red Cap teammate Tom Reece and East Ballarat’s Peter Colbourne will embark on their first international cricketing ventures.
Begbie, who averaged 40 with the bat at number three last year, will play in the highest tier out of the three, with his side competing in the Cheshire County Cricket League 1st XI Premier League.
Bramhall, near Manchester, won both the league and the knockout cup last year, in which Begbie was extremely influential, averaging the most runs out of the side.
“It was probably one of the main things that got me across, playing in the higher division after winning last year,” he said.
“It was great to do the double and the whole trip was amazing. It was a great life experience.”
Begbie played his first full season in the Melbourne CC first XI over the summer, having proved the grand final hero in the second XI in the previous year, when he notched up an astounding 151 in the grand final.
He averaged 29 with the bat in Victoria’s highest level of cricket this season, including five half centuries and a highest score of 98.
However, he was unable to replicate his finals heroics after his side’s qualifying final against Geelong was abandoned, with Melbourne subsequently knocked out of the race.
For Colbourne, Houghton Main Cricket Club in the South Yorkshire League awaits, after the East Ballarat all-rounder was awarded the coveted Cricket Willow UK Scholarship earlier this year.
Having been set up with a host family, Colbourne said he hoped to bat at number three, but it was very much a case of the unknown at this stage.
“I’m counting down the days, I’ve never been overseas before,” he said. “I always wanted to go overseas and play so it’s a great opportunity.”
Wendouree’s Reece, who took a step back from the rigours of first grade cricket this year, says he is pumped to have cricket as a big part of life again.
He will play for Bilton in Ainsty in division one of the Whetherby Cricket League in Yorkshire.
“I was a bit tired of the cricket/footy drag, but now couldn’t be more excited,” Reece said.
“I always hoped to do it since I was young. As it gets closer I’m sure I will get more nervous but right now I’m just excited.”
Begbie and Colbourne will leave Australia on April 8, while Reece will depart on April 10.