Harwood makes a mark

What is your full name?

Shane Michael Harwood.

Where and when were you born?

In Ballarat on March 1, 1974.

Tell us about growing up in Ballarat.

I grew up in Sebastopol. My family is pretty close, pretty much a regular family. My mum Cheryl and my dad Garry are hard workers, and I have a younger sister, Renee. I played a lot of backyard cricket with my older brother Damian. My main focus as a kid was probably football. I also used to play a lot of indoor cricket.

Backyard cricket would have been pretty competitive at times.

Oh yeah, definitely! Damian was into sports as well, it was something we could always compete against each other in. Some of my best memories growing up were of playing sport.

So you always had a talent for cricket?

My grandfather Syd used to play cricket, I think that's where I got it from. I'm not sure but I think back then he played for the railways and then for Napoleons.

How did your career in cricket start?

I first started with Napoleons then played a few games for Ballarat Redan in the seniors, then went to Brown Hill. Then obviously Melbourne and Victoria.

Growing up, did you always think you were going to be this successful?

Maybe not in cricket. I always thought I had something in football. I know as a junior I did. I gave it up for a couple of years then started focussing on cricket. I represented Victoria four times in indoor cricket from 15 right through until 18 and got into the Australian side once, that forced me into trying outdoor cricket to see how I would go.

So you enjoyed football as well?

I loved the football, I played right up until I got to state squad with cricket. When you're on a contract they put a ban on you playing contact sports.

Do you miss it?

Definitely. I follow the Saints, and I've still got a bit of a soft spot for Sebastopol, I used to play with them and Rokewood.

What's life like at the moment for you?

Pretty good. I'm enjoying Melbourne and the lifestyle of being a full-time cricketer. I'm a qualified painter and decorator but I've got out of that and I generally go for a storeman or something similar for work. The money in cricket is getting better though, they nearly have the contracts up to a year's wage.

What's training like?

Pretty full on actually. It's a big step from what I'm used to with football and cricket! Every day we do something like a swim or a run in short and fast spurts. We do a lot of weights. A training session goes for two or three hours.

Are there any games that really stick in your mind?

Probably my first four-day game and my first Pura Cup game against Tasmania, I got a hat trick.

You've got a bit of a history with hat tricks haven't you?

I've had a few of them, yeah.

Is there a particular style of play you're known for?

Since I started playing at Shield level everyone has noticed my reverse swing bowling. Shane Warne said he hasn't seen too many better. I've been watching tests and something will come up about reverse swing bowling and they will mention my name. That's where I regret I didn't move to Melbourne earlier.

What's it like playing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground?

It's awesome. I've been lucky, I played a couple of games there with Melbourne before the state squad. Obviously it's our home ground but we don't get to play on it too much!

Is it a bit surreal to be there playing at an elite level?

It is, probably because it's later in my sports career, I'm 29 soon. I never pictured myself being there. You always watch it on television and you think ``yeah I could probably play that'', but when you actually get off your butt and go down and see if you have got what it takes it is.

It's been quite a difficult road for you hasn't it?

I've had a few injuries on the way. I've had muscle strains in the side, broke my ankle and had a few back injuries.

What about life away from cricket?

I'm enjoying time with my girlfriend Jacinta Gruer. I like fishing and going on holidays. That's about it really, I don't find much time for anything else.

Do you have a favourite fishing spot that you can tell us about?

Not really, anywhere on a boat's good. I always catch a lot at Colac. Anywhere where there's water and a stubbie!

Have you got a favourite holiday destination?

Corfu in the Greek islands. It was pretty good when we were over there. I went over to Europe and played in Leeds, and spent a few days in London and Manchester. It's great over there, the people are great. The weather's not too crash (hot)!

What's next for you in cricket?

Just trying to get through the season and keep going as well as I am and trying to get to the next level. There are a few selectors interested at the moment. It's pretty hard when you have elite bowlers in the Australian side like Gillespie and McGrath, but they are getting older. I was selected for the Prime Minister's 11 but I was unable to play through injury. I was shattered.

Is it more difficult for you to keep in shape given your past injuries?

It's just a matter of keeping a base level of fitness. Being a fast bowler injuries will happen and it's trying to prevent them and being as fit as you can. That way the selectors don't have the excuse of not picking you because of your fitness level. From now until next season I will concentrate on pilates. It's enjoyable, I found yoga was boring.

What's the best part about playing cricket?

The friendships you make, and being competitive. I've got that nature. The higher the level the greater it gets, that's why I love it.

What do your mates from Ballarat think of your success?

I know they follow it, they come down and watch games when I'm playing in Melbourne. Then there's a bit of sledging going on from the sidelines!

What factors do you think have contributed to your success?

I put a lot of it down to Jacinta. She played professional squash, and because it's a self-motivated sport she's passed a lot of that on. Also training at the Australian Institute of Sport. I put a lot of credit to Greg Burgess who was my junior coach at Napoleons, and Brown Hill were really good and never tried to hold me back.

What would you do after cricket?

All going well, I would like to continue playing until I'm 34. I'm 28 but because I had a fair few years off the coaches class me as a younger bowler. The more you play the less the body can take. I haven't really thought about what I'll do after cricket. I would probably open my own business.

You will continue to have a sport connection?

Yes, I get a lot of enjoyment out of coaching kids so I daresay I will do something like that in Ballarat or wherever I am. I would like to give something back to Brown Hill.

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