New West End Redbacks rookie Henry Hunt hails from his family’s sheep farm at Grenfell – a country town in New South Wales so unknown that he tells people he is from the neighbouring district of Cowra, a 45-minute drive away.
Despite having spent the last three cricket seasons playing Premier Cricket in Sydney for Northern Districts and Eastern Suburbs, his country manner is distinctive and he’s not so comfortable talking about his strengths.
However, SACA General Manager, High Performance Tim Nielsen saw something in Hunt during a standout Toyota Futures League 2018-19 season for ACT/NSW Country when he was the competition’s leading runscorer, including a knock of 208 from 261 balls.
“Tim actually dropped me a text about the potential of coming over to Adelaide and the opportunities, then I had a chat with him and so from there something got offered and then I never looked back,” Hunt said.
“I struggled in the transition to Sydney at first – coming from a population of only 2000 people it was a pretty big move. In 2014 I went from Grenfell to Canberra after completing school and had two seasons in Canberra in the under 14-15 and 15-16s. I then played three seasons in Sydney up to last season. I played for two clubs over there, Northern Districts and Eastern Suburbs.
“Adelaide’s a lot easier. It’s just a lot nicer and quieter and easy to get around. I think everything in Adelaide is just a few gears slower which is nice because that’s sort of how I’ve grown up. Everything in Sydney’s pretty high-paced and everyone sort of looks after themselves. You can get lost in how big it is. It’s like a dog eat dog world. In Adelaide everyone’s pretty chilled which is more suited to probably who I am. I fit in really nicely here in terms of the environment I’m in, and the squad’s been really good.”
Since moving to Adelaide in May, Hunt now lives with returned Redbacks pace bowler Wes Agar only a stone’s throw from Adelaide Oval.
“We were fortunate enough to pick up a two-bedroom house with a granny flat in North Adelaide so we’re just up the road,” he said.
“So super close. Me and Wes played in the (Australian) under 19s with each other, so it was fortunate him coming over at the same time and pairing up, so we’ve signed a lease which is kind of good because I did a lot of couch surfing last year. I think I ended up living in nine different spots last year. Yeah, it was horrible.”
Getting to know Henry Hunt
So living with Wes… Who’s Bert and who’s Ernie?
Ha, fair question! I’d say Wes is a bit more harebrained than I am, so he’d be Ernie. Tough for me to remember Sesame Street!
Do you think you have a key strength that you bring to the squad?
I don’t know, I guess that’s the country in me. I’m pretty quiet and shy I think. I don’t have much to say – I’d rather just put words into action rather more than anything than brag about it. It’s more about the walk than the talk, I think.
What are you hoping to achieve out of this cricket season, your short-term goals?
I hate speaking about what I want to achieve … I’m just taking it one step at a time and that’s my attitude, just train and not put too much expectation but obviously there’s that goal at the back of your mind to play at the highest level you possibly can. For the Redbacks, (One-Day Cup) and the Sheffield Shield would be great.
I understand you worked while training in Sydney. What kind of part-time work did you do?
I did quite a bit of work - labour and construction and some bar work in between. I tried university out for one and a half years and found it was too hard to juggle the three balls in cricket and work and university – it was just too much restriction on being able to do all of them to an adequate standard. I ended up flicking Uni last year. I was studying teaching and went to a few pracs and thought, can I see myself doing this? Probably not. I was a bit naive jumping into it but I thought it would be smooth flowing but it was a lot harder to try and balance it and earn some money as well while trying to train on top of it.
How did your interest in cricket develop?
I played a lot of sports as a kid. I played a bit of Rugby League and I remember I actually made my decision at a rep trial because when I was 15-16 it was split – cricket/rugby league and dad was like, well you’re going to have to pick one if you want to do one. I ended up going to a trial – a greater NSW country trial and I don’t have the build and I ended up getting smashed and I thought that’ll do me. I thought it was probably best to pull the curtains on that one. I love all sports, going out as a kid I played everything… I played soccer, footy… an allrounder. Loved it all, loved sports and that recreational side of things but always loved cricket throughout the summer.
Tell me about your family
Dad’s a farmer, mum’s a schoolteacher at the local high school. I grew up on about 1200 acres worth of land. Dad’s into sheep so he runs about 1100 head of sheep on the farm. He took that over from his parents once he was old enough. Family business type thing. I’ve got two sisters both younger, one’s 20 and the other one’s 15. So, the little one, she’s back at home, and the other one’s studying in Sydney Uni, and she’s doing soccer as well. We’re all pretty sporty – she’s in the W-League for Canberra United so she’s just come back. She’s had a few knee operations and stuff at the moment and the younger one’s doing soccer as well, so she’s in the under 16s Matildas - so both doing soccer.
So, you’re the son and heir to the family farm?
No! Oh, look I like it … I sort of took for granted how much I liked it in a way. While I was there, you know you think yeah it’s the farm, it’s this and that, but if an opportunity comes up to go back and visit, work on it and spend some time there you’d take it up. I’ve got a week off in a fortnight, so I might get some tickets to go home for a few days. The drought is pretty full-on at the moment.
Passions aside from cricket?
I love fishing. I love golf, too… and camping.
That seems to be a common theme with cricketers – golf and fishing!It must be the long game that we like!