Young all-rounder aiming for a black cap
HARRY BOAM has given the Firebirds selectors something to talk about by smashing his maiden club century in style.
The 22-year-old Wellington cricketer, pictured above batting, blasted 118 runs off 79 balls including nine sixes to contribute to Karori’s 246 run win over Wainuiomata recently.
Boam hit the headlines when he became the first schoolboy cricketer to be awarded a contract with Wellington in the 2008/09 season.
Since then he has been moved around both the batting and bowling order, especially in the 20 over competition, often to make room for international imports contracted by Wellington cricket.
“I think it’s the nature of cricket these days, it’s becoming more of a business,” he says.
“It’s disappointing to miss out on teams from my point of view, but I always want Wellington to do well, so whether it’s me or someone else doing it, it doesn’t really bother me to be honest.”
While he was selected to play in the opening game of the HRV Cup Twenty20 competition this season, Boam did not get the chance to bat or bowl in front of his home crowd last Friday night.
“On another night I could’ve had to come out and score 30 off 20 balls and win us the game, it’s just the way it’s going to go,” he says.
“It’s only one game out of 10 and we cruised home to win last night so I’m not disappointed at all.”
Former Karori cricket captain Simon Baker has been directly involved throughout Boam’s time with the club and sees him as an up-and-coming talent for New Zealand cricket.
“He (Boam) may only get one or two bats this year for our club and I know how passionate he is about getting a century on the books for the year, which is truly pleasing to see,” says Baker.
He says he has mixed views on guys who come from overseas to Wellington and cost talented, local players a spot.
“Harry’s a good example of someone who’s been in the development system of Wellington all of his career but from time to time misses out because of these guys,” says Baker.
“It is a business, but equally they’ve still got to pull their weight, whether it’s through the gates or winning games for us.”
Boam says his first class career playing for the Wellington Firebirds got off to an ordinary start but he felt he proved his worth at the start of his third season when he scored 90 runs in an innings without being dismissed.
“For me that was the time when I felt like I belonged a bit more at that level,” says Boam.
He says that milestone innings gave him confidence and built his self-belief.
Boam thinks the coaching team of Jamie Siddons and Shane Deitz have made positive changes in the Firebirds camp, and that he has been given lots of opportunities to prove himself.
“The guys who make the decisions are there because they know what they’re doing. We came away with a win, so they’ve obviously made some good choices in terms of the mix of people they went for,” he says.
“That’s the way it goes in professional sport; you’re going to miss out on teams and you’re going to make teams that you maybe shouldn’t have, that’s just the way it goes.”
The performance of the Wellington Firebirds in the past few seasons has been disappointing with no silverware won since 2004 despite past signings from international superstars including Muttiah Muralitharan and Brett Lee.
This year they have signed Bangladesh youngster Tamim Iqbal and Englishman Chris Woakes, as well as bringing Australians Cameron Borgas and Shaun Tait on board for a couple of early Twenty20 matches.
For Boam, the exposure to these big names has been an invaluable experience toward building his own career.
“I found that with Murali(tharan) last year we spend about half an hour talking to him in the changing room and it’s just mindblowing what you can learn from them,” he says.
He thinks that encounters like this with cricketing legends will mean that, if and when he is called up to play on the international stage, it won’t feel like such a big step and his performance will benefit.
Boam is also confident that the positive build-up to this season will help to bring better results for the struggling Firebirds.
“We’ve worked really hard as a team to figure out what we haven’t done well and now we’re really starting to address that,” he says.
Hamish Templeton, Karori’s current captain, and one of the coaches in the early stages of Boam’s cricketing life, says that the young all-rounder is seen as a player with huge potential who will have a strong future playing for New Zealand if his current level of performance continues.
“I think he’s got a very bright future,” Templeton says.
“He’s come on in leaps and bounds in both cricketing ability and general maturity since I first met him at the age of 13.”
Templeton says the dynamics at Karori team trainings have changed for the better, with Boam now taking a leadership role and helping other guys out with their technique and attitude.
“He’s starting to become one of the regulars in the Firebirds team and the Firebirds are starting to have more success.”
“There’s no doubt that for the last few years people have seen him as a future New Zealand player.”
Boam was selected for the New Zealand Under-19 World Cup team in 2008, and played once again in 2010.
He has travelled to England the last couple of years to play county cricket and hopes to be able to make a career out of cricket by playing for his country in the near future.
“I would love to play for New Zealand and be a really good international player,” says Boam.
“My goal is not just to play for my country, but to be really successful at that level.”
Images: Cricket Wellington, NDTV Sports