Young speedster rewarded for ‘breakout’ summer

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Young Mount Gambier fast bowler Jared Kuhl was on fire with the Kookaburra in hand during a memorable summer and was recognised by cleaning up last week’s Glenelg and SACA District Cricket presentations.

In his first season of the state’s highest level of underage cricket, Kuhl was close to unplayable picking up 30 wickets at an average of just 8.27 across 11 Under 16 Red games. Thanks to his exploits with the ball, the 14-year-old was named as the junior cricketer of the year for the prestigious Glenelg club.

Kuhl also won the Seahorse medal and was presented with the Under 16 Red overall bowling trophy. Glenelg District Cricket Club coach James Greenwell said he had hardly seen a young talent make such a big impression in their first time at the club like Kuhl has. “What he has done as a bottom-aged first-year player is exceptional,” he said.

“Not many can come from outside the city and hit the ground running with five-for in their first game. “Normally young players coming in get taken to at that level, but no batter played with any confidence against Jared and he never looked back.”

Kuhl said it was an honour to represent the club which has 114 years of history where iconic names such as Ian and Greg Chappell, Ashley Mallett, plus more recently Chadd Sayers and Alex Carey have played. “I was thrilled to get the opportunity in the first place, let alone perform at that level,” he said.

“There have been heaps of cricketers who have played state and international cricket Glenelg such as Peter Gladigau and Chadd Sayers, so it is good to be around those names. “So to be able to open the bowling was amazing and the coaching is unbelievable up there.”

But the chance to perform against the state’s best required a lot of dedication. Every weekend Kuhl’s parents would make the 872km journey to and from Adelaide, while the youngster also put in many hours with the Chappell Whitty Academy before the summer.

“I am really grateful for my parents,” Kuhl said. “We travelled about 22,000km over the summer to let me perform, so it is as much their success as it is mine. “The Chappell Whitty program provided a brilliant pathway for junior cricketers like myself to go through and play for Glenelg. “It gave me an edge before the season started getting the extra practice and quality coaching during the winter.”

Kuhl enjoyed a dream start to his Glenelg career picking up 5/14 on debut against Kensington. It did not take long for the quick to become the leader of the team’s Under 16 Red bowling attack, which led to a promotion to the Under 18 Shield side.

After four matches in the higher age group, Kuhl returned to the Under 16 Red outfit and took regular wickets to be a key part in Glenelg’s semi-final berth. In the sudden-death fixture Kuhl showed no signs of nerves and his 2/19 from 10 overs helped restrict Sturt to 110.

However, the Seahorses were skittled for just 74 and the Mount Gambier paceman was disappointed not to help his club go all the way. “Obviously we were disappointed to lose that game because I thought we could have won with ease,” Kuhl said. “I thought the bowlers did really well from both ends, but our batsmen just could not make the runs.

“I would gladly hand in my trophies for a premiership any day of the week and next year I hope to take Glenelg to the promised land.” What made Kuhl’s efforts even more impressive was his ability to change his line and length to suit the new conditions.

On softer and greener pitchers in Mount Gambier, Kuhl said he would attack the stumps and allow the variable bounce to do the trick. But on harder wickets in a hotter environment in Adelaide, he adjusted to a more traditional line and length targeting the top of off stump and the outside edge.

Kuhl also said the high focus placed on fielding gave him extra belief to work over batsmen. “The cricket is at a different level and the fielding standard helped me to take a lot of the wickets,” he said. “The fielding up there is amazing and how much they attack the ball was incredible and something I took into my game. “They helped me have more confidence to bowl in different areas and try new things.”

Playing in a side which also contained South East youngsters Tom Smith and Jayden Prior at various points of the season, Kuhl said he felt right at home. “Glenelg welcomed me brilliantly and I liked how they just told me to have a go, so things just went from there,” he said. “I got to know the boys really well in both the Red and White teams and the environment was really good.”

The only downside of the 2020-21 season was the cancellation of the Under 15 national championships due to COVID-19 which Kuhl was supposed to play. But the future looks bright with the young gun receiving a sports scholarship at Prince Alfred College next year, where he hopes to take his game to the next level, but jokingly said he will avoid any underarm bowling tips from the Chappell brothers, who are still involved in the cricket program.

Greenwell said he cannot wait to continue working closely with Kuhl again next summer. “He is an exceptional young man with a really big future,” Greenwell said. “Technically there was not much he needed to improve on, he has amazing control and is tall, quick and strong with a very good action.

“He is very coachable and is prepared to take on board what is presented to him with an outstanding attitude. “We are super excited to continue working with him.”

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