Kelly leads young cricketing talent
KUMBIA captain Ryan Kelly has played through the highest of highs and lowest of lows in his short time as skipper of the fledgling A-grade side.
The 20-year-old was part of the Kumbia squad that finished last in the B-grade competition a few years ago, but has since seen his team claim the most recent South Burnett Twenty20 competition trophy and win the past two B-grade finals.
Now part of the A-grade competition, Kumbia claimed their first win against Kingaroy RSL Services at the weekend, and for Kelly it was a proud moment after somewhat hand-picking his young side.
"We were an older team when we first came back into the comp, but I slowly poached some fellas across from other teams and we've built up from there,” Kelly said.
Kelly is something of an enigma on the cricket pitch, batting left-handed but bowling out of his right.
He attributes that to his junior cricketing days in Kingaroy, where he began in under-10s and batting left-handed felt more natural.
The all-rounder was in fine form at the weekend, top scoring with 42 runs in Kumbia's first A-grade win, but it is his bowling figures in crucial matches that prove he is a clutch performer under pressure.
Kelly took five wickets for just four runs against Warriors B in last season's B-grade final, and also captained the South Burnett under-19s to their first ever win - a blitz against Gympie - in which he also took five wickets.
With a cricketing brain belied by his age, the Services-turned-Kumbia product believes T20 cricket is driving the older heads away from the sport.
"You're moving a lot of the older players away from (cricket), and it's changing the way cricket is played,” Kelly said.
"Batsmen are trying to pre-meditate their shots rather than play the ball on its merits.
"But that's where cricket is at for the younger guys; we want to go out and play, not stand in the field for 50 overs and chase the red ball around.”
For Kelly, what started as an interest as a youngster has grown into a passion that does not look to fade any time soon.
"I just enjoyed it when I was a kid. I started playing because my family plays and I've just stuck with it,” Kelly said.
"Each year I'm just trying to improve myself - always trying to get better.”