Joe Willman in action last Saturday . . . the 14-year-old Diggers Ex-Services leg spinner has a real passion for cricket.
Joe Willman in action last Saturday . . . the 14-year-old Diggers Ex-Services leg spinner has a real passion for cricket.

Little Joe? has old heads spinning

By GREG WHITE

THERE'S a promo running on NBN television right now, showing bright-eyed youngsters enthusing their love for cricket.

But the TV crew missed a golden opportunity by failing to include Diggers Ex-Services leg spinner Joe Willman in the advert.

Fourteen-year-old Joe has a passion for the game.

So much passion, he plays juniors on Saturday morning before backing up with the big boys later in the afternoon.

Last week in just his second first grade appearance, young Joe nabbed 3-25 against Bellingen-Dorrrigo, the team coached by his Emerging Blues mentor, Chris Moran.

"If Chris was upset he didn't show it," Joe said.

"He's been a big help to me getting to this stage."

Joe has no problem handling his busy Saturdays but says both levels need a different approach.

"In juniors, you can flight the ball a lot more, whereas in seniors, if you don't bowl tight, they belt you."

Diggers captain Steve Meakins said Willman deserved his opportunity.

"He's young but he's enthusiastic," the wily skipper said.

"I won't push him, just let him find his feet at his own pace."

Joe is grateful for the attitude of more experienced players since making his debut.

"Because I'm 14, I won't be looking for favours," he said.

"I don't expect them and obviously, won't be offering any in return.

"That's how you obtain respect in cricket."

After starting life as a quick, Joe adapted to the spinner's craft after attending a workshop at Narrabeen.

The change to slow bowling has offered incentive to 'think out' his victims, especially one second grade scalp he collected that gives enormous pleasure.

"The batsman who I won't name, got very daring as he came down the wicket to meet me, trying to put me over the top," Joe said.

"I landed four balls on the same spot and he became more and more eager.

"The fifth ball was flighted and he couldn't resist.

"Got right under to thrash it, and popped up the catch."

On the day the Coffs Coast Advocate came calling, Joe had just received terrific news.

"I've just learned I've been picked in the Northern New South Wales team to tour to Argentina," he said excitedly.

This comes on top of selection in the Bradman Cup team.



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