Today sees the first of a series of articles from up-and-coming journalist Tyler Lewis, who will interview several cricketers across Premier Cricket. Today's article interviews Ringwood star David King.
David King has been simply extraordinary from the moment he set foot onto the Victorian Premier Cricket scene over a decade ago.
And at just (age) 29, he is poised to finish in the same breathe as the likes of Jack Ryder, Warwick Armstrong and Brendan McArdle as one of the finest all-rounders the competition has ever seen.
Coming from a family who lives and breathes cricket, King was always destined to be a star, raised in the cauldron of the backyard by his competitive older brothers, who he believes have helped him achieve what he has today.
“Early, early days it all began in the backyard,” he said.
“I have two older brothers who started playing cricket a fair few years before me, and my dad was my coach through pretty much all my junior days.
“I think I was playing under-12s when I was seven, 22 years later here we are now.
“They definitely didn’t hold back, myself and my two brothers are very competitive and have competitive personalities, I think that definitely helped me moving forward – always being challenged by older people only helped me improve my game.
“I return a lot of success back to those younger days, being thrown in the deep end,” King said.
Before he knew it, he was pulling on his nations threads, the green and gold of Australia for the 2008 under-19 World Cup. A famous series, one that enhanced some of the world’s most prominent cricketers, a memory King cherishes, especially now.
“I understood the privilege and importance it could have presented,” he said.
“But looking back now, probably even more so, getting play with the likes of Steve Smith, Josh Hazlewood, Phil Hughes, James Pattinson, guys like that.
“You sort of pinch yourself about it, being on the same level of those guys at that particular time.
“I knew a few (opposition players), there was some fairly handy cricketers, I didn’t know the enormity of it until blokes like Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli came out of it,” King said.
Upon returning from Malaysia after the World Cup, King brought up his first Victorian Premier Cricket century for the Rams, a memorable day against Casey-South Melbourne that sparked a whirlwind of runs.
“It was quite a big thrill,” he said.
“I came into the side when I was 16 and the first few years I made a lot of 30s and 40s and was trying to make sure I went on with those scores.
“I suppose to get that one out of the way was a bit of a relief, I think it showed myself more than anyone that I can make these big scores.
“To get that first one out of the way is really important, for a lot of young guys coming up getting those 30, 40 or 50s consistently, once they get that first one out of the way – I think it only gets easier from there,” King said.
Later on in the 2008/09 season, King notched another century before playing a pivotal role in the grand final against Carlton, knuckling down for a gritty 87 to guide Ringwood to victory as just a teenager.
While the great players seem to find another gear on the biggest stage, King was on the wrong end of it in 2015/16 when fellow champion Peter Dickson peeled off a historic double-century for Fitzroy-Doncaster – a moment accompanied by only one other where King was reduced to laugh at his own misfortune out in the middle.
“You look at players like that (Dickson) and there is a few around the comp who have been making consistent runs for years, you really want to get them early,” he said.
“Once they’re in and on a flat wicket at the Junction like ‘Dicko’ got, I think we dropped him a couple times, but once he got to 40 or 50 – he didn’t look like getting out.
“When good players get to that part of their innings, they’re hitting everything, it does make it difficult and unfortunately we were on the wrong side of that one.
“When he got to 60, balls were on the top of off stump and he was just lacing them through backward point – there wasn’t a lot we could do.
“There was one other time against James Pattinson, we got him in a twenty-20 and he got 140, and you were genuinely laughing because you were being hit over the clubrooms,” King said.
Difficult contests against the Lions have been some of the bigger learning curves for King, specifically when he was only games into his long career against frightening quicks.
“I still think the fastest spell I have ever faced was against Brad Knowles who played for WA,” he said.
“He came up the hill, I think he was bowling with Jon Fagg; Faggy went downhill with the wind, and back then Ringwood did have a bit more in it than it does at the moment.
“Knowles came up the hill against the breeze and nothing was happening.
“Then he swapped over and we just got balls flying passed our nose, he was definitely bowling 140 plus.
“He ended up snicking me off because he bumped me a few times and I stopped moving my feet then he floated one up and I snicked one.
“I think that is one of the first times I was beaten by a bit of pace and was outsmarted by a bowler, I definitely learned a bit from that for the future against big quicks,” King said.
With a touch under 9,000 first XI runs to his name to date, King is starting to surpass some extremely handy cricketers who have come before him.
While it wasn’t something he ever set out to achieve, it is something he thinks he will look back on with pride – the same way he would if he was to take home the illustrious Ryder Medal at seasons end.
“I suppose things like that you don’t play cricket for, but when they pop up you are not aware of them until someone tells you,” he said.
“It is probably another thing you look back on and say ‘I have made more or the same amount of runs as certain players who are absolute guns of the game’.
“To say you have numbers and achievements like those will be pretty good to look back on once I am finished for sure.
“It (the Ryder Medal) would be one of those achievements you like to do, but not one you go into the season setting out to do.
“Team first, you want to be winning flags, I want to win at least another one.
“As far as individual honours go it would be fantastic if I got one, but I think I would have to finish the year pretty strongly I think,” King said.
Many of the competitions greatest players have forged prolific careers over a number of rival clubs, but for King, it has been all down at Russell Lucas Oval, his home away from home – and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I couldn’t really see myself playing for anyone else,” he said.
“A mixture of playing there my whole life, the environment, the volunteers that work so hard and tirelessly just to get us out on the park.
“Just the family friendly environment, I think that is a credit to the club on the culture they have got.
“We don’t generally have a big turnover, that is usually a good sign.
“It is like a second home for me, so I couldn’t really see myself playing anywhere else,” King said.