When Brad Haddin made his first grade debut for the ANU at the age of just 16, many in the ACT Cricket community felt they had a front row seat to something special.
A few years later, Haddin made his debut for the Comets, then the Australian One Day team, followed by selection in the National T20 side, before finally receiving that call every aspiring cricketer cherishes: selection in the Australian test team.
In many ways he attributes his success to being in the right place at the right time, and the support he received as a teenager from Canberra cricket legends Greg Irvine and Peter Solway.
“That’s where I learned a lot. Greg and Peter helped me enormously,” Haddin says.
Then the Comets were established, providing the opportunity for Brad to play alongside the likes of Mike Veletta and Merv Hughes.
“I think I was blessed with the education I received in my cricket career. The Comets came along at the right time. My Canberra connection gave me a head start.”
Haddin says while many young players his age were battling it out in second eleven teams, his career was being guided by legends of the game.
He well remembers the Mercantile Mutual game against Victoria with Hughes playing against his former state and out to prove a point.
“Merv said to me before the game, ‘You better stand further back, you’ll see the real Merv Hughes today’.”
History shows that Hughes terrorised the Victorian batsmen that day, while Haddin thumped their bowling attack to all parts of the ground.
Brad Haddin went on to play all three forms of the game for his country including 66 tests.
He continued playing in the Big Bash League after retiring from international cricket.
There was also a memorable return for the Comets in the Futures League in 2015, where he hit 104 off 100 deliveries. It was a chance for him to give back to the younger players in the same way as he was nurtured as a teenager.
These days he is happily retired from all forms of Cricket.
“I don’t miss playing,” he says, “I’m content with what I have done. I’m still involved in coaching, I feel as though I exhausted all options as a player and I retired a happy man.”
He was at one stage involved with the coaching structure of the Australian team but has pulled back to ensure he spends more time at home.
Having said that, he will be making a return to the crease in the Bushfire Relief fundraising game. It will be his first match in five years.
In his book, My Family’s Keeper, Brad detailed the impact of being on tour as his daughter, Mia, battled cancer. He remains understandably reluctant to spend too much time away from his family as he works for Fox Sports and as an assistant coach in the Indian Premier League.
Being at home in Sydney also gives him time to pursue another passion, the Canberra Raiders.
“The Raiders are still my team. I take the kids to watch them when they play in Sydney.”
That passion for Canberra isn’t confined to the Raiders.
“ I think if they decide to expand the Big Bash from 8 to 10 teams, Canberra is ready. We should be in the conversation. We’ve seen how well the international matches have been supported here.”
No doubt this is music to the ears of those keen to see a Big Bash franchise based in Canberra.
Brad Haddin will be in Canberra on Friday 7 February as one of the guest speakers at ACT Cricket’s Summer of Cricket Luncheon at the Southern Cross Club Woden.
For further details go to: https://the-riotact.com/events/cricket-acts-summer-of-cricket-luncheon