Billy, what’s life like as a professional cricketer?
I’m very lucky to do something that I love. For me, getting to play cricket and earn a living doing so is a dream come true. I’ve been adjusting to spending a lot of time away from home over the last 12 to 18 months, but I’m really enjoying going to different parts of the world and playing cricket.
How did you first get involved in the game?
I first got involved in cricket playing with my younger brother in the backyard - but he would always beat me!
What was your pathway from your early junior days through to playing for Australia?
It started in the backyard, then into Milo Cricket, club cricket and underage representative teams. That led to playing underage cricket for Queensland - I had that pathway all the way through the Queensland system which held me in great stead leading into men’s cricket.
What do you remember about your Pathway tournaments? Are you still playing with or against players you knew then?
There were quite a few guys from Queensland I still play with - like Jack Wildermuth, Marnus Labuschagne and Mark Steketee. There’s a lot of guys I grew up playing with who are still in the system playing professional cricket, like Sam Hain who I went to school with and played underage cricket with, he’s playing county cricket in England, and Blair Tickner who I went to school with who’s playing first class cricket in New Zealand.
Travis Head was always a good challenge to come up against too. I played underage cricket against him for a few years, and now I’m playing with him in the Australian team and with the Adelaide Strikers.
When did you decide that you wanted to play cricket for Australia?
It was always something I wanted to do as a young kid. Once I got picked in the Australian Under 19 team when I was 16, that’s when I stopped playing Aussie Rules and thought cricket was starting to get a bit serious. That’s when I made the choice to focus on cricket.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far in your cricket career?
For me, it’s mainly been injuries. The last 12 to 18 months I’ve been relatively free from major injuries which has been great. I had about six stress fractures from the age of 17 to 22, so that’s been the biggest challenge - being injury free and getting to play some consistent cricket, which I’m really starting to enjoy.
What made you realise you were good enough to compete against the world’s best players?
I always had a bit of self confidence and belief in my ability, but I think a game where I showed it on the field was earlier this year against New Zealand, when I took 3-15 in a T20. That was a breakthrough moment on the international stage which gave me a lot of confidence going forward that I could compete against the best.
Can you tell us about the moment you received your first Australian cap, and what that meant to you?
I got my first Aussie cap in January 2017. Carl Rackemann presented me with my ODI cap at the Gabba, a home game for me. The game didn’t really go to plan, but it was a really exciting moment. It came out of the blue, I didn’t really see it coming - but it was something I’d always dreamt of. It’s what every kid dreams of, getting to run out and represent Australia.
What does it mean for you to represent your country?
I remember going and watching Test matches at the Gabba, looking at it and going that’s what I want to do - I want to run out and play for Australia. There’s nothing like representing your country. For me it’s a dream come true and I’m loving every minute of it.
What are you goals for the summer?
Just to play as much cricket for Australia as I can. If I can stay fit and stay on the park, hopefully I can play some more white ball cricket for Australia which would be great.
What would be your advice to young players following in your footsteps at this year’s Under 17 Championships?
My advice would be that’s it’s easy to look at the outcome of getting selected for higher honours - like underage Australian teams. But if you focus on enjoying the carnival, enjoying playing with your mates and playing your role for the team that those other things take care of themselves. If you can separate all the outside things that you can’t control and just enjoy the carnival and playing your role for your team, it will hold you in really good stead.