The explosive fast bowler with long, flowing locks rocketed his way to a rookie Redbacks contract off the back of a whirlwind 24 months across both cricket and football.
After a pre-season with SANFL club West Adelaide, Oakley played a full season with Port Adelaide’s SANFL reserves side last year as an athletic key-position prospect.
He then starred for Tea Tree Gully to finish as the leading wicket-taker in West End First Grade with 32 at 16.7 and was also equal-second for West End One Day cup wickets with 11 from six matches.
The 21-year-old said his stint with the Port Magpies had helped fast-track his road to the Redbacks.
“It was pretty life-changing to be honest,” Oakley said.
“In terms of professionalism, it changes everything you think you know. You go from a normal league club where the professionalism is pretty high, but then an AFL club is just another level.
“It was huge for me. I definitely changed a lot both physically and mentally.”
Oakley remembers his first training session with West Adelaide in 2017 which brought about a frank initiation to the level required.
“I got sprayed because I overtook someone on the inside on a 400m,” he recalls.
“They got me up in front of the whole group at my first ever training and said ‘never overtake anyone on the inside, that’s a short cut mate’.
“That just hit me. It’s little things like that you learn which has held me in good stead. Never finish short, never take the inside lane, always go around the cone - all those one-percenters.”
Oakley carried that mentality with him to cricket, and it paid dividends.
Winter triathlons be like 🥶🏊🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/qBY9tpqMou— West End Redbacks (@WestEndRedbacks) June 4, 2019
His standout season with Tea Tree Gully earned him the coveted Jason Gillespie Medal last summer and a spot in the West End Premier Cricket Men’s Team of the Year as voted by captains and coaches.
He also made his Toyota Futures League debut in South Australia’s final match of the summer against Western Australia and turned heads again with a four-wicket haul.
But his maiden match didn’t all go to plan.
“I was so excited that I forgot my tape measure and didn’t mark my run out properly or anything,” he said.
“I was bowling OK without getting a wicket, but then I thought ‘I’m just going to start letting this go’ and I ran in and let it rip.
“I got one right through the gate, gave it a bit of a chainsaw celebration and went on from there.”
Oakley’s childhood hero was former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, and it’s easy to see how his idol’s energy, aggression and thirst for the contest has helped shape Oakley’s own game.
“It’s everything about him. That’s where the chainsaw came from!” Oakley said.
“I had posters all over my wall growing up and even now my YouTube history is all Brett Lee, his top 100 wickets compilations, his best celebrations.
“Giving a bit after wickets sort of gives me a lift, but not only for me, it also seems to lift my teammates as well. That’s the biggest thing.”
Oakley has already impressed in his first few weeks as a Redback. He ran strongly in the squad’s opening pre-season time trial then held a hot pace in a gruelling triathlon at Normanville.
The 193cm quick believes he can continue to get stronger, fitter and faster on and off the pitch.
“I think my action needs some work and I’ve got some pace to gain,” Oakley said.
“I want to gain around 10km an hour and push that 150km/h range. I want to bowl really quick and consistently if my body allows it.
“I’ll obviously continue to work on my batting and fielding, but there’s not many that can bowl that real express pace regularly.
“Cricket’s my first love. I want to play cricket for South Australia and, maybe, have the opportunity to play for Australia one day.
“That’s the dream.”