Published: 6th December, 2018
With 308 runs in just five innings in his Australian summer so far, it’s fair to say Surrey batsman Will Jacks is adapting well to life and cricket down under.
After a memorable first senior county campaign in 2018 in which he was involved in some of the most crucial moments as Surrey sealed their first County Championship since 2002, Jacks set off to Perth for a winter of training and club cricket with University Cricket Club.
WHAT. A. MOMENT.
WHAT. A. MATCH. pic.twitter.com/LeJJzJf7uo
— Surrey Cricket (@surreycricket) August 22, 2018
With matches played on a Saturday in Western Australia, Jacks has the working week to hone his skills with the hope of building confidence and becoming a more rounded player; similar to the benefits experienced by Ollie Pope last winter, who played for Campbelltown in Sydney.
It may help that Jacks is working with a face familiar to many at Surrey. Stewart Walters is an Australian-born batsman who played for Surrey between 2006 and 2010 before joining Glamorgan and then eventually returning home to Perth. Jacks is enjoying his time with Walters ahead of the 2019 county season.
He said: “I’m feeling pretty good at the minute. I’m working pretty hard in the week in my one-on-one sessions with Stewart Walters and making improvements all the time there. From that I’m trying to take all of that into the weekend and scoring as many as runs as possible, which I think I’m doing well with at the moment.
“Things are heading in the right direction at the moment but I’ve obviously still got a lot of work to do. Hopefully by the time March comes I’ll be ready to start the county season positively.”
Of his five innings so far, one in particular stands out for Jacks. The 20-year-old scored 205 from the top of the order as his University team thrashed Claremont-Nedlands in early November.
“I didn’t go in to that one feeling too confident having got a duck the week before so I was just hoping to get to 20 first really. The wickets here are pretty good, quick and bouncy, similar to what I was told they would be, so once I got in it was a matter of taking things as they come, batting as long as I could and everything I tried just came off,” said Jacks.
While Jacks featured in the middle order in Surrey’s first-class campaign this year, he did lead the way at the top of the order in the Royal London One-Day Cup campaign as Surrey’s only centurion in the group stage.
For four of his five innings so far in Australia, he has had the new experience of opening up against a red ball and there’s a very good reason for that.
“In white ball cricket I think opening the batting is my strongest position and I had a bit of success this year at Surrey doing that. That’s something I’d love to keep doing in the future.
“In the red ball format, I’m not an opener but I’m using it here as an opportunity because the older ball doesn’t swing here so often. Opening here, while it is still swinging, is the best way to practice for when I return home in March.”
With the T20 competition beginning on Sunday 9th December, Jacks is looking forward to facing a number of high quality cricketers gearing up for the Big Bash later this month.
“I’m yet to come up against someone who bowls especially quick which is when the bounce makes it harder. In the T20s to come we’re going to face first-class players preparing for the Big Bash so that’s a challenge I’m looking forward to and I guess we’ll see then.”
Stepping outside of the Surrey bubble in which Jacks has been in throughout his entire career so far – having come through the Surrey Academy – is a vital challenge for young cricketers and Jacks is enjoying the independence.
“DiVa [Head Coach Michael Di Venuto] has been in contact with me most weekends and wanting to know how I’ve been doing. Other than that, I haven’t been in touch with most of the Surrey group and much of that is part of being in control of what I’m doing and getting out of the experience what I put in to it.”
The experience of a winter away isn’t all about the cricket however and although Jacks is embracing the Australian life, he isn’t quite ready to step on a surfboard yet.
“I’ve been very lucky over here, I’m living with a very nice family and they’re looking after me well. I don’t have to do much cooking or washing for myself so it’s basically like living at home.
“It’s a pretty relaxing lifestyle and it’s starting to hot up over here. It got to 37 degrees on Sunday which might be too hot for me but that does mean I get to spend a decent bit of my free time at the beach. There’s no chance of getting me surfing though!”
Excited to see how Jacks fares in next year’s county season? 2019 Memberships at the Kia Oval are available now.