Placing Canberra cricket on the map: Q&A with Brendan Duffy
Western Districts and University of Canberra spin bowler Brendan Duffy has had the experience of a lifetime, as Duffy and his teammates competed in the National Premier Cricket Twenty20 Championships in Adelaide, finishing fourth overall.
The competition, which took place in early March 2020, featured many of Australia’s top premier cricketers. This included former Australian batsman Peter Forrest and New South Wales Blues wicket-keeper Daniel Smith, as well as other players that have participated in the Big Bash.
For an ACT club, given the much smaller pool of players to select from compared to the other states, finishing fourth is an outstanding achievement.
I recently caught up with the 29-year-old, where we discussed the experience of the National Championships and his successful thirteen year career with Western Districts.
Q. Congratulations on finishing fourth in the National Premier Cricket T20 Championship. How big of an achievement was this for you and your teammates?
A. We won the competition here [in Canberra], to then go to Adelaide is great to be part of a national tournament and put not only ACT Cricket, but Western Districts on the national stage. Which is a fantastic experience, something all the boys were looking forward to. Then to have some success and win two of three games to finish fourth, was awesome, showing that we can compete with some of those bigger clubs around Australia.
I think often the Canberra side is written off before those championships start. I guess to prove a few teams wrong and to show we can compete and we have some very, very good cricketers here in Canberra, is very satisfying.
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Champions! Not the best conditions today at Phillip, but our 1s strong performance in the rounds, losing just one game leading into the finals and finishing atop the table means that we are crowned champions and will represent the ACT at the National premier T20 competition in Adelaide in March. Well done to captain Condo and coach Blake. #allforone
Q. Despite the ACT having a smaller pool of players to pick from, do you think we are producing the same quality of players as the bigger states/territories?
A. Just with numbers it is always hard to produce the same quantity of players. I think we are quite fortunate being a smaller city that guys can train together more regularly. When we look at rep teams, whether it’s ACT or whatever else, guys can train together. Where in NSW or some of the other states, trying to come together for the National Championships can always be difficult as they can be hours and hours away from each other. Whereas, we tend to know each other pretty well and work quite well with each other. Which is always advantageous when we get to those championships.
Canberra has produced a number of good cricketers over the years, I don’t see any reason why that should stop.
Especially with the links to country NSW, as long as we continue to bring those players in and strengthen our comp here, I think there are plenty of pathways for guys to push through.
Q. Thinking back, did you ever think you would get an opportunity to compete against some of the country’s best national cricketers?
A. Not really, no. Because it is a new concept, it’s the second year it was happening. It was a great experience, especially for me, it could be my last season, back end of my playing time.
It’s a great chance to go and test yourself against some of those good cricketers and see the standard that they play in in some of the other states around the country and capital cities.
I think it’s a brilliant concept and it was awesome to get the opportunity to go and play there.
Q. What preparation went into the tournament?
A. A lot of guys are fairly individual with their preparations. There are guys who carry a lot of injuries, especially in our team. So, for some the preparation was quite limited. By the time you get to our age, you tend to know your game fairly well, so you know what you need to do. The preparation wasn’t too different to anything else. In fact, it was almost a little bit different because we couldn’t plan and prepare for some of the other players, as we don’t know them very well compared to here in Canberra. It was kind of funny preparation, but it was good as we could just go and play cricket and work it out on the spot instead of going in there with these plans beforehand.
Q. Were you happy with how you performed during the tournament from an individual perspective?
A. Twenty20 is hard because there is always limited opportunity and it is difficult to sometimes to get into the game. I think I only bowled five overs for the tournament. I always like to do as much as I can in a game of cricket, but Twenty20 is always challenging. It could be one or two overs that can have a bearing on the game, so you have got to take those small opportunities. With the bat I didn’t contribute too much. I was not out in one of the games, which is good but again only small contributions.
Q. It must have been heartbreaking to know you were only one win away from the final, after the narrow defeat to Adelaide University, how did that feel?
A. It was disappointing and also being the first game, we knew going in that only playing three games and the way the tournament is structured, you really do have to win all three to give yourself a chance. Losing that game, a game that we probably could have or should have won and only losing by five runs was quite disappointing. It would have been a great opportunity to play in that final. But in saying that we won two out of three and that still probably exceeded a number of people’s expectations.
It still was certainly a positive trip, but it would have been unreal to play in that final.
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Westies finish the @mycricketaus National Premier T20 in 4th position! A great result for the boys. Thank you to all who made it possible to get here, and good luck in the final, @adelaideunicric and @sydneycricketclub ! . . . @cricketact @sportsclubkaleen @hypeperformanceau @sommerssports @physiosportoconnor @uc.sport @konicaminoltaus
Q. You work full-time and play cricket at quite a high level; how do you balance all this?
A. Yeah, it is not easy, that’s why this year might be the last one. I guess organisation is important, so having things in place whether it is schoolwork or whatever else, doing that after training. At night being organised, being prepared, my wife is also very helpful with certain things. I probably couldn’t do it without her support. I think it definitely has a lifespan and I was lucky enough to play for a long time. I am probably more heading towards work and the career, rather than cricket. The school has allowed me to take time off and go and play which is much appreciated as well.
Q. You don’t see cricket as the big future for Brendan Duffy then?
A. I don’t think so. Any kid growing up it is obviously one of the dreams to pursue cricket. I would have love to of played professionally, I guess ability sort of let me down there, I couldn’t quite get to that next level.
Just having the opportunities, I have had has been unreal and for many guys that play in Canberra, I consider myself pretty lucky to win the competitions that we have and to play at the level I have.
It’s been really good.
Q. So overall pretty happy with your career in the sport?
A. Absolutely! To play at a club like Wests for as long as I have, we have had a lot of success. It is disappointing this weekend not playing. But from that we had six teams playing grand finals this week, so all five means grades and the women’s team playing, and I think all five men’s grades finished on top, so we will win the comp through that.We won something like eleven out of a possible thirteen competitions, which is just incredible.We have been a strong club for a very long time and it’s around this time of the year, each year it’s sort of who’s leaving? What’s going to happen next year? But we just find a way to continue that success. I have loved being a part of West’s and wouldn’t have changed it.